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Misclassification Harms Your Rights in a Virginia Workers’ Comp Claim

For purposes of many labor and workforce laws in the US, there are two classifications of workers — employees and contractors. During your typical workday, you may not need to address the distinction. However, it is important in the eyes of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWCC). Plus, the difference could be significant when it comes to your own interests as the victim of a workplace accident. 

There can be confusion regarding classification, and some employers willfully defy regulations regarding employees versus independent contractors. Regardless of the reasons behind misclassification, it can have negative implications if you need to file a claim. A Virginia workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on the specifics, but you should understand the basic legal concepts.

Definition of Employee Misclassification

The distinction between employees and independent contractors impacts many labor and employment-related issues. Social Security and income taxes are among the top reasons for separating the two, but workers’ compensation laws are also an issue. If you are injured in a workplace accident or suffer from an occupational illness, your classification as an employee is crucial. Virginia law does not require companies to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage unless you are a true employee.

A closer look at misclassification reveals that, if you are NOT considered an employee, you cannot receive any workers’ comp benefits. Your medical costs are not covered, and you do not qualify for wage replacement. You will need to pay for all medical treatments and ongoing care out of your own pocket, now and in the future. If you are a surviving family member and lost a loved one due to conditions in the workplace, you may not be eligible for death benefits.

Classification Factors

The reality of your work relationship is the key to classifying you as an employee versus an independent contractor, as opposed to using titles or labels. The analysis is generally based upon the level of control a company possesses over the workplace environment. If the business dictates your hours, work location, and what is required of you, you are probably an employee – regardless of what your employer tells you.

Some factors – without more– will NOT mean you are automatically an independent contractor; it is necessary to dig deeper into the work arrangement. Examples include:

  • A signed agreement designating you as an independent contractor;
  • Your receipt of a 1099 instead of a W-2 for federal and state income tax purposes; and,
  • Holding a professional license in your name as opposed to the company.

What to do About Misclassification

If you were hurt at work and were denied workers’ comp benefits on account of your status, it is important to take action right away. An attorney can advise you in discussing the situation with your employer, in case there was a mistake in processing your claim. You can also use legal assistance if it becomes necessary to take additional steps, including filing a complaint with the VWCC. 

Get Legal Help from a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you want to learn more about employee misclassification and your workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia, please call Hampton Injury Law PLC to set up a complimentary case evaluation. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide more advice after reviewing your specific circumstances.

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