Construction work is dangerous, as any construction worker can admit. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can verify it as well. On any given day, the risk of a construction accident can be high due to the presence of heavy equipment, moving machinery, toxic chemicals, electrical systems under maintenance, flammable liquids, tall scaffolding and cranes, and much more.
Because construction work is inherently dangerous, does that mean that construction workers in Georgia are guaranteed workers’ compensation benefits? No, unfortunately, not. A number of factors can determine whether or not a construction worker has workers’ compensation that will provide benefits if they get into an on-the-job accident.
Independent Contractor Status & Employee Count
In Georgia, independent contractors are not guaranteed workers’ compensation coverage. Anyone who works on a construction project as an independent contractor, not an employee of the construction company, could very well not have any workers’ comp benefits owed to them after an accident. Construction companies know as much, which is why so many divide up tasks around a construction site to various independent contractors. This practice allows the employer to avoid paying larger workers’ compensation policy premiums, but it leaves workers vulnerable to financial hardship if a construction accident happens.
Georgia employers with less than three employees also do not need to purchase workers’ compensation policies, either through a private insurance company or through the state’s program. If you are working for a small construction team of just yourself and a supervisor, like a two-person crew who handles renovations only, then your employer has no obligation to buy workers’ comp to cover you.
What is Statutory Employment?
Questions of workers’ comp eligibility among construction workers – and even any sort of independent contractor – can get complicated once statutory employment is considered. A party that is considered as a statutory employer can be required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to any contractors hired by a subcontractor originally contracted for that employer.
For example, a construction company hires a subcontractor to find specialists to complete a construction project, like electricians, plumbers, roofers, and so forth. The subcontractor offers jobs to independent contractors with no affiliation to their company or the construction company. Even though that subcontractor does not have the obligation to provide workers’ compensation coverage to the independent contractors and specialists, the original construction company might.
Whether a subcontracted worker gets workers’ compensation depends on the type of work they complete, the type of work the construction company usually performs, and other factors. In other words, the situation and the determining factors can be quite complicated.
Attorney Guidance to Find the Right Answer
If you are injured while working in construction, then the chances of you having workers’ compensation benefits can be cloudy. There is even a possibility that your employer has intentionally misclassified you as an independent contractor when you really should be counted as an employee. To get to the truth of the situation, you should leave the complexities of your case up to a workers’ compensation attorney.
Construction workers in Atlanta can call (770) 629-9321 to connect with our lawyers from The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC. We know the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation rules and regulations in Georgia. Once we are on the case, you can rest easier knowing that experienced legal professionals are working on securing the maximum benefits or compensation for you. Contact us now!