Does Workers Compensation Cover Independent Contractors in Missouri?

It is important to understand that not all forms of employment are eligible for worker’s comp. However, there may be other legal options you can turn to.

Workers’ compensation is a state-run program that says a worker who is injured on the job or gets sick because of something in their employment environment has the right to receive proper medical care without needing to pay for it out of their own pocket.

The principle is that it’s the job itself that puts them at risk of getting injured or sick. The program involves covering the worker’s relevant medical costs, as well as lost wages if they need to take time off work to recover.

However, not all forms of employment are eligible for worker’s comp, such as independent contractors.

Why Are Independent Contractors Excluded from the Program?

It all boils down to the form of employment you have and the types of responsibilities you carry. When you are an employee, full time or not, your work activity is decided for you. Your employer gives you a list of tasks you need to do and places you need to be during your work shift. 

This means you are responsible for respecting these requirements, and the employer is responsible for ensuring you have all the right tools and training to perform the job safely.

For independent contractors, on the other hand, there is a lot more ‘freedom’, at least from a legal point of view. Independent contractors are not considered employees, rather collaborators, meaning they do have certain freedoms that an employee does not. For one thing, you can negotiate the nature of your collaboration and only accept the tasks you are able to perform. An employee is chosen based on their abilities to perform all (or most) tasks needed for a position.

Because of this type of relationship, the company you collaborate with generally has no legal obligation to offer independent contractors worker’s comp benefits. The same applies to freelancers because, again, they are generally not considered employees.

Independent contractors and freelance workers are viewed as self-employed, and therefore companies are not required to offer them worker’s comp benefits, or any other types of benefits they would give employees, such as paid vacation time.

What If You Get Injured?

Freelancers and independent contractors can purchase their own worker’s compensation policy, and turn to it if they get injured on the job. It’s an insurance policy at the end of the day, and if your work activity puts you at a high risk of getting injured, then it may be a good idea to purchase this insurance.

If you don’t have it, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the company you were collaborating with, but in this case, you’ll need to prove negligence. The company you collaborate with must be directly responsible for your injuries for you to be compensated.

What Should You Do?

Whether you are an independent contractor or an employee who has been injured on the job, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced Missouri work injury lawyer to see what your legal options are and ensure your legal rights are protected.

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