Florida Workers’ Compensation and Independent Contractors

With the exception of independent contractors working or performing services in the construction industry (Florida Statute 440.02(15)(c)3), individuals working as independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from the companies for whom they are performing services. The reason why is because they are not considered employees of those companies. F.S. 440.02(15)(d)1.

These statements should not be misconstrued as meaning that employees of independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation. Such employees are entitled to workers’ compensation from their own employers. However, in many instances, the individuals who work as independent contractors are self-employed or work for others who do not have workers’ compensation insurance.

Many companies seek to limit their workers’ compensation insurance premiums and claims by classifying individuals as independent contractors when they are not. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some companies try to avoid being sued for negligence by classifying independent contractors as employees. See Florida Statute 440.11 Exclusiveness of Liability.

The issue has been heavily litigated in Florida. To provide some guidance on the issue, the Florida Legislature created a checklist of factors to consider in making the determination. See 440.02(15)(d). The factors include:

  • Whether or not the individual maintained a separate business, with his or her own work facility, truck, equipment and materials;
  • Whether or not the individual holds or has applied for a federal identification number;
  • Whether or not the individual performs work for any entity in addition to the person for whom he or she was performing work at the time of the accident;
  • Whether or not the individual incurs the expenses of the work performed;
  • Whether or not the individual may realize a profit or a loss in connection with the work;
  • The success or failure of the individual’s business depends on the relationship of business receipts to expenditures

The outcome of the determination can have significant consequences. For example, an individual who is severly injured on a job in the absence of negligence other than his or her own, will have no recourse against the employer unless he or she is classified as an employee and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. On the other hand, an individual al who is severely injured through a company’s negligence, may be better off being classified as an independent contractor, so that he or she is not limited by workers’ compensation immunity in pursuing civil damages, which includes compensation for pain and suffering, a type of compensation not available under Florida’s workers’ compensation system.

Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your legal rights.

Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

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