Without independent agreement, injured worker wins workers’ comp

A recent story out of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, shows employers and employees the importance of signing contracts in a timely manner. Reportedly, an independent subcontractor hired as a painter for Lee’s Metal Roof Coatings & Painting in 2011 is entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries received in a fall.

The worker was injured on May 6, 2011, when he fell from a roof, striking his head and injuring his right knee and left ankle. The accident reportedly occurred several days after the contracting company hired the worker. In October of the same year, the injured party filed a workers’ compensation claim despite that he was allegedly hired as an independent contractor.

The owner of the company claimed that no employment relationship existed between the two parties when the incident occurred as an independent agreement was never signed. However, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania disagreed, ruling in the injured party’s favor. The story indicates that the injured party “might have” signed the agreement after his release from the hospital, but the court says it does not matter. Since the contract was not signed prior to the accident, it places the injured worker in the realm of employee rather than independent contractor.

In order to receive workers’ comp benefits, an injured worker must show that he or she was an employee, that the injury occurred during work and that it resulted in a loss of earning potential. It seems the injured party in this case did exactly that and will receive benefits for his injuries.

This story reveals the importance of exploring all of the options when injured during the course of employment. When it seems as if you have no chance of winning your right to workers’ compensation, discussing the matter with an experienced attorney might make all the difference.

Source: Business Insurance, “Timing is everything: Before signing contract, worker was employee,” Stephanie Goldberg, July 22, 2015

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