In general, if you are employed in the state of Pennsylvania, you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance if you are injured on the job. If you suffer a sudden injury or if you develop an injury over time, workers’ compensation insurance should cover your medical expenses, as well as other costs.
However, what if you are not a true employee? What are your remedies?
The Difference Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor
Although both employees and independent contractors may work for the same company, there are significant differences between these roles. Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor determines that individual’s method of recovery after being injured on the job.
In Pennsylvania, independent contractors:
- Charge fees for services
- Must pay their own Medicare, Social Security, and income taxes
- Are hired for specific terms
- Maintain control over how they work
- Are responsible for all costs associated with the job
- Provide their own tools and equipment for the job
Employees, on the other hand:
- Maintain employment for an extended period
- Are protected by employment laws
- Are financially dependent on the employer
Only employees are covered by Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance plans. There is a presumption that an individual doing work for a company is an employee; the burden is on the business to prove that the individual was actually an independent contractor at the time of the incident.
What if I Am An Independent Contractor and Am Injured on the Job?
If you are an independent contractor and are injured while working, you may not file a claim with workers’ compensation, but this does not mean that you are without any remedy at all.
Independent contractors may pursue a personal injury claim against a business if they are injured while completing a job. The independent contractor must prove that the business was negligent to recover any damages.
To prove negligence, the independent contractor must show that the company he or she was working for did not act reasonably in a specific situation. Because of these specific actions (or inaction), the independent contractor was injured.
For example, perhaps there are steps that lead into the business. The business owner had to notice that one of the steps needed repair, but weeks went by and the business owner did not repair it. The independent contractor shows up to perform a job and trips on the steps, breaking his ankle.
The independent contractor may be able to show that that the business owner was negligent in not having the step repaired—and because of this negligence, the independent contractor was injured.
Damages in a Pennsylvania Negligence Action
Claimants who prevail in a Pennsylvania negligence action may be entitled to a variety of damages, including:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of future medical care
- Loss of income
- In cases of serious injuries, the cost of adding wheelchair ramps or other accommodations to a home may be claimed
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
Other types of damages may also be awarded, depending on the facts of the case.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Pennsylvania has deadlines in place that limit how long a claimant has to pursue legal action. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. In most negligence claims, the deadline is two years from the date of the incident.
If an injured claimant waits longer than two years to pursue legal action, the claim may be dismissed. The claimant will be solely responsible for the medical expenses and other financial losses he has incurred.
Experienced Pennsylvania Injury Attorneys Can Help
At Solnick & Associates, our Jenkintown, Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys are available to help you if you were injured on the job. Whether you were an employee or an independent contractor, we are able to pursue all avenues of recovery on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at (215) 481-9979 today.