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Can I File For Workers’ Compensation if I am only Part Time?

Yes. Any individual who is considered to be an employee, rather than an independent contractor or a part of one of the other exempt classes of workers, such as domestic workers, qualifies for workers’ compensation coverage. This means that even if you only work 10 hours each week, you can receive compensation from your employer’s workers’ compensation provider if you suffer a compensable injury while you are at work.

How Much Money Can I Receive Through Workers’ Compensation as a Part Time Worker?

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Workers’ compensation can cover two areas of need following an accident: medical bills and lost wages.

You are entitled to receive compensation for the cost of your medical treatment needs up to the point of your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which your doctor determines that further medical treatment will not do anything to improve your condition.

As a part time employee, the amount of wage compensation you are entitled to receive through workers’ compensation is not high. The wage compensation you receive is 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly pay. Even for a part time worker, getting this money can mean the difference between being able to cover your expenses and facing financial hardship after an injury.

Your Rights as a Part Time Employee

Do not allow anybody to make you feel like you are less deserving of workers’ compensation benefits simply because you are a part time employee. If you suffered an accident at work and are now in need of compensation for your medical bills and the wages you have lost or will not receive because of your need to take off from work to recover, you have as much of a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits as a full time employee.

Misclassification of Employees

One way that some employers attempt to avoid having to pay workers’ compensation benefits to their employees is classifying them as independent contractors. This is a form of fraud and a violation of employment law. When an employer classifies an employee as an independent contractor, it not only relieves itself of having to pay workers’ compensation to that employee, but it avoids having to provider unemployment insurance coverage to him or her and saddles the employee with having to pay his or her own taxes, rather than having them withheld from each paycheck.

What is the Difference Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor?

The difference between these two worker categories is the employment relationship between the individual and the employer. When you take a job, you should know whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. Employees sign a W2 form when starting a new job and independent contractors sign a 1099. If you are unsure of your status, talk to your supervisor to confirm whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. Do this before you are injured in a workplace accident and find yourself unable to receive workers’ compensation coverage.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the following factors can be used to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor:

How integral is the individual’s work to the employer’s business? If the individual plays a critical role in the day-to-day operation of the business and is thus economically dependent on the company, rather than in business for him or herself and simply performing a short-term task for the company, he or she is an employee. An example of an employee in this scenario is a cashier working in a retail store.

The permanency of the individual’s position. If the individual’s position with the company is indefinite, rather than contracted for a specific task or period of time, he or she is an employee. However, a short-term position does not necessarily mean that an individual is an independent contractor – for example, many companies make use of temporary labor supplied by staffing agencies. The labor supplied this way frequently comes from employees, not independent contractors.

How much business judgment does the individual exercise when working? Although an employee can be a skilled worker with agency within his or her position, an individual who exercises a level of self-interest and business acumen as part of his or her position is generally an independent contractor. Basically, if the individual in question puts forth some of his or her own risk of loss to perform a job, he or she is usually an independent contractor.

Does the individual use his or her own tools to perform work? Whether the individual uses his or her own tools or those supplied by the company can indicate whether he or she is an employee or an independent contractor. This goes along with the question of the individual’s level of risk involved with performing a job and his or her business sense in doing so.

Do the individual’s managerial skills affect his or her profit? If the individual exercises managerial skills such as the use of specialized equipment or the hiring of workers to handle his or her projects to affect his or her chance to make a profit, he or she is likely an independent contractor.

How much control does the company have over the individual’s work? This is probably the most complicated factor to consider when determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. Put in its simplest terms, independent contractors are small business owners and employees sell their labor to companies in exchange for regular paychecks, benefits like healthcare insurance and paid vacation time, and the opportunity for advancement. An employee might or might not have a set work schedule – the lack of such a schedule does not make one an independent contractor. Similarly, the level of autonomy an individual has does not determine whether he or she is an employee or an independent contractor, but it can be a strong indicator. Rather, the level of control over aspects of the relationship like the cumulative business goals of the individual that the company holds can be used to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor.

So what does this mean about your right to workers’ compensation? It means that if you have been classified as an independent contractor, yet your relationship with the company matches that of an employee, you might have to work with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to have your position correctly classified so you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Do this only after you have spoken about it to your employer and attempted to have it corrected within the company.

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