Do Contract Workers Qualify for Workers’ Comp Claims?

Non-employees working on a company site are covered for workplace-related claims. But it’s important to seek medical care from the employer’s provider.

Restaurant-back-kitchen-Dollarphotoclub_57847605-300x213-300x213 Do Contract Workers Qualify for Workers’ Comp Claims?American workers increasingly labor away in an independent contractor environment. Much controversy surrounds this, largely due to often-diminished compensation and the union-busting nature of how it is implemented. In San Francisco – home to “disrupter” tech-driven companies that include ride-share companies Uber and Lyft – companies are subject to a raft of lawsuits and negative publicity because they operate on a largely independent contractor basis.

But in Illinois (and many other states), at least the growing ranks of consultants, freelancers and day laborers have one important employee protection in place. That is workers compensation insurance for contract workers, which provides for costs relating to injuries sustained while working. Because of past incidences of fraud, the system creates hurdles for would-be claimants to file a claim successfully, therefore use of a workers comp attorney in Illinois is very often necessary.

Essentially, contract workers are covered in one of two ways:

  • Contractor does not have own policy – Illinois treats vendors as employees of the firm they are contracting with if those vendors do not have their own insurance policy.
  • Contractor has own policy – Some outside vendors who work on site might have workers compensation insurance of their own (in fact, it might be a requirement for getting the contract in the first place). This would tend to happen in larger companies with several individuals employed on a work site.

This is exceptionally important coverage because of the nature of workplace-related injuries. An injury can happen almost anywhere – Illinois defines (in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act) what a hazardous environment might be, which includes offices with sharp cutting tools such as scissors – therefore the need for near-universal insurance is a given.

The type of injury can range from a debilitating construction site accident to injuries or illnesses sustained in healthcare provider environments, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, repetitive trauma such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and work on both the ground and in the air in airline-related jobs.

Choose your workers comp healthcare provider carefully

Regardless of whether the injured is a fulltime employee or a contract worker, he or she should seek immediate medical attention as soon as the injury is evident. Acute, emergency care can be obtained anywhere it is available as needed. But nonemergency care must be sought through the employer’s PPP, preferred provider program (which is approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance) or another healthcare provider as referred to by the employer. To seek ongoing medical and therapeutic care outside these confines risks losing benefits under the workers comp program.

Injured workers in any type of situation with any type of injury are advised to contact a workers comp lawyer – in Chicago and elsewhere – early in the process to avoid forfeiture of benefits and to expedite the process.

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