The Gig Economy and Work Injuries in Orlando
Written by Shawn Diederich on March 23, 2016
Working for a company like Zipcar or Uber has its advantages, including flexible hours and the ability to spend time out and about instead of stuck at a desk like so many. However, there are disadvantages as well, with the most significant perhaps being a lack of benefits that come with a standard offer of employment. If you work for a similar company in today’s ‘gig economy,’ you are almost certainly not entitled to workers’ compensation insurance, for example, and if you are injured on the job, you may be on your own unless certain exceptions apply.
Are You A Contractor Or Employee?
Florida law sets out a multi-pronged test to tell if someone is an employee or an independent contractor, with arguably the most important factor being the question of control. A worker who can police themselves and works largely unsupervised is much more likely to be held to be an independent contractor, while those directly under a supervisor in a fixed location are employees. Normal workers’ compensation laws only apply to independent contractors in Florida if they are in the construction industry, which the significant majority are not.
Rarely, employers will try to misclassify employees as independent contractors so as to avoid paying benefits or injury compensation. This is a felony in Florida; to try and wrongly label an employee as an independent contractor may also open the door to tax-related investigations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If your superiors attempt to wrongly classify you to avoid paying benefits, it is in your best interests to consult an employment law attorney immediately.
Is Any Compensation Available?
If you are an independent contractor and are injured on the job, you are unfortunately on your own most of the time, in terms of paying bills and the like. However, there are exceptional situations where you may be able to receive some compensation for your injuries, even if you may not attempt to claim workers’ compensation.
The most common is when your injury is the result of a third party’s negligence. Third-party claims are common in Florida, though many labor under the mistaken belief that workers’ compensation precludes any right to bring suit, which is not the case. The statute holds that a standard personal injury suit may be brought by the injured party, but one peculiarity of Florida law that one should be aware of is that normally, any personal injury claim will likely be conducted after granting subrogation rights to your insurer. In a workers’ compensation action, subrogation rights would be granted to your employer or their insurer, but with a third-party claim, the only insurance that would logically be activated is any private life or auto insurance you may own.
Seek Experienced Advice
The life of an independent contractor can be difficult, but if you are aware of all your legal options, you may have more resources than previously thought. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney can also make the process of getting your due much simpler. The zealous Orlando personal injury lawyers at the Diederich Law Firm, P.A. are ready, willing and able to help guide you toward a path that will yield the best outcome for you and your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.