The spring 2014 newsletter from the Nevada Workers' Compensation Section (WCS) included an interesting article on the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and what impact this could have on employers in relation to workplace accidents and workers' compensation claims. As an employee, it is important to understand how this may affect you as well.
According to this latest edition of the Nevada Workers' Compensation Chronicle, some employers have "mistakenly believed that they could circumvent the requirement to provide workers' compensation by labeling their employees as 'independent contractors' or by entering into a written contract with the employee." This did not exempt employers from criminal prosecution, according to the Attorney General's office.
Employers must properly classify their employees for tax purposes and to remain in compliance with workers' compensation laws. If they purposefully or mistakenly mislabel employees as independent contractors in an attempt to save money by avoiding workers' compensation insurance coverage for these workers, they may actually end up facing fines and criminal prosecution. They may also be held liable for medical expenses and lost wages incurred from work-related injuries if these mislabeled employees are injured or suffer from occupational diseases. In addition to this, employers may face serious penalties for the time they were uninsured. All of this can easily add up to significant financial losses for the employer.
Nevada Revised Statutes require all employers to secure workers' compensation coverage for virtually all employees, with very few exceptions. Employers have an obligation to properly understand workers' comp requirements and to properly insure employees based on their correct classification. Simply labeling an employee an independent contractor or attempting to work out a separate agreement with an employee may actually be illegal.
Injured at work? Talk to an attorney.
If you have been injured at work, you may find it helpful to talk to an attorney about your right to workers' compensation. This is particularly true if you have been told that you are an independent contractor or if you have run into any issues in seeking benefits for medical care and lost earnings. The workers' comp claims process can be difficult as it is, even if you are properly classified as an employee. If you are misclassified as an independent contractor, you may encounter any of a number of problems.
As Las Vegas workers' compensation attorneys, we at Shook & Stone fight for injured workers' rights throughout Nevada. If your employer has negligently or intentionally violated workers' comp laws and you are paying the price, we can work to hold them accountable as we seek the benefits that are rightfully yours. For more information about our attorneys and our services, please call for a free case review. We are standing by to see how we can help you.