Independent contractors and volunteers are among those not covered by workers’ compensation in California, but employees enjoy the protection that this insurance provides.
Businesses Must Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Employees
California law requires all employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of the number of employees a business has. California Labor Code (LAB) §3351 defines the term “employee” in broad terms:
“‘Employee’ means every person in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed.”
The law considers the following categories of workers explicitly as employees:
- Paid public officers
- Most domestic workers
- Incarcerated workers
- Working members of a partnership or limited liability company
LAB §3352 provides information on who is not covered by workers’ compensation because the law does not consider them employees, including:
- Individuals who work for family members
- Amateur sports officials
- General partners in a partnership
- Occasional workers
California law also excludes federal workers, longshoremen and harbor workers, deputy clerks, deputy sheriffs, and law enforcement officers from other states working in California from state workers’ compensation coverage.
Employment Status Is Not Always Clear-Cut
If you are a freelancer, consultant, or independent contractor, you may not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you should note that businesses sometimes classify individuals as independent contractors to avoid having to pay for workers’ compensation insurance and other benefits.
In some instances, the parties have what the law could consider an employer-employee relationship. If you suffered injuries while working, and you believe that the business incorrectly classified you as an independent contractor, you could seek compensation for your losses through the workers’ compensation system.
When an Employee Might Qualify for Benefits
You may qualify for workers’ compensation if your accident occurred in a single event or if you suffered harm over time by work-related conditions at the office, factory, or somewhere else. For example, you could receive compensation if you fell at work, hurt your back while lifting a heavy object, or crashed your car while delivering packages or running errands for your boss.
You might receive benefits if you developed a repetitive stress injury (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome) after performing the same type of motion for several hours per day over a lengthy period. Workers’ compensation benefits can also apply if you developed an illness because of work conditions. For example, if you worked in a poorly ventilated area and suffered exposure to hazardous fumes, you might eventually develop a respiratory illness for which you could qualify for compensation.
However, you may not receive workers’ compensation benefits if your accident occurred while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You may also disqualify yourself from receiving benefits if you got injured while horsing around, fighting, or committing a crime.
How a Los Angeles Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Could Help You
If you were hurt while working and worry that you might not be covered by workers’ compensation, an attorney could help you figure that out. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has represented people in Los Angeles and across the United States who suffered on-the-job injuries and helped them seek the compensation they deserved.
A member of our staff can listen to what happened and how the accident or illness has affected you. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you could qualify for compensation for medical bills, temporary or permanent disability benefits to cover a portion of your lost income, and other forms of assistance that can help you seek employment in a new field.
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the insurance company may offer you a lump-sum settlement, but you should not necessarily accept it. Your injuries may impact you more than you might expect.
Physical limitations could make it difficult or impossible for you to work in your old job. You may have to work part-time, take a lower-paying position, or look for an entirely new line of work.
You may need ongoing medical care or assistance from an in-home aide. Your health might take a turn for the worse, and you might eventually have to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility to receive round-the-clock care.
A Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer can carefully consider all potential costs associated with your injury and seek a fair amount of compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 529-9122 to speak with a staff member and learn more about how we could help you.