Who is at Risk for a Hit and Run Injury?
You probably know that in Massachusetts, workers who are injured on the job are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation generally pays medical bills for employees who are injured on the job, and will also provide replacement income if the employee is unable to work for a time due to the injury. If the injury is permanent, workers’ compensation will typically offer a lump sum settlement.
There are very few exceptions to when workers’ compensation will cover an on the job injury for an employee. However, only employees are covered by workers’ compensation. Independent contractors do not receive workers compensation benefits.
In Massachusetts, the employee classification law is quite strict– perhaps the strictest in the country. That means that sometimes people who are classified by the employer as independent contractors are legally considered employees, and therefore should be entitled to workers’ compensation and other employee benefits and protections. A recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court potentially expands that classification to some franchise owner’s.
Don’t Take Your Employer’s Word for Whether You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
If your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor, they are very unlikely to volunteer that information. They may not even be aware that you should legally be an employee. If they do know, chances are that they classify you as an independent contractor to save money on payroll taxes, employee benefits, unemployment insurance premiums, and workers’ compensation premiums. Admitting to the misclassification could cost them a lot of money.
The best way to determine whether you are a misclassified employee who should be entitled to workers’ compensation after an injury is to talk to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney. As a starting point, consider the “ABC test” employed by the state of Massachusetts to determine whether a worker is an employee or a true independent contractor. To be considered an independent contractor in Massachusetts, all three of the following criteria must be fulfilled:
- The work is done without direction and control of the employer
- The work is outside the usual course of the employer’s business
- The contractor has their own independent business or trade providing that type of services to others
If even one of those variables is missing, you are very likely statutorily considered an employee. That means that if you would otherwise be eligible, you are probably eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, this is a battle you will most likely need to fight with the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Though this post is about entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, you should know that if you are a misclassified employee, you are likely entitled to a wide variety of other protections and benefits not applicable to independent contractors. These include minimum wage and overtime protections and access to unemployment compensation.
Franchise Owners and the ABC Test
Until recently, it has been largely assumed that franchise owners fell into a different category. A franchise is itself an employer, and its owner a business owner. However, a case that has been working its way through the Massachusetts courts for several years may change that. Recently, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the ABC test applies to franchise owners. Of course, that does not mean that all franchise owners, or even the typical franchise owner will be considered an employer under Massachusetts law. But, it does expand application of the ABC test to that group and make it possible that they may be entitled to workers’ compensation and other employee protections depending on their specific circumstances.
Talk to a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured at work and your employer says you are not covered by workers’ compensation because of your classification, don’t stop there. Take a look at the ABC test and see whether you think that you may actually be a misclassified employee. If you believe you may be an employee under the law and so entitled to benefits, contact an attorney with extensive experience in workers’ compensation cases.
Remember that if you do turn out to be properly classified as an independent contractor, you still have options. Though you will not be entitled to workers’ compensation, you may have a negligence lawsuit against the company–an option not available to those covered by workers’ comp. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has extensive experience with workers’ compensation cases and negligence claims. To schedule a free consultation about one or both types of cases, call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site.
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