Last time, our blog started discussing how some workers may be understandably unsettled by the notion of suffering a work injury owing to their underlying uncertainty as to whether their employer carries workers' compensation insurance.
We sought to help ease these fears by discussing how, outside of a few exceptions, the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act requires all businesses with at least three employees to carry workers' compensation insurance. In today's post, we'll continue with these efforts by taking a look at how this work comp insurance requirement applies outside of traditional employer-employee relationships.
According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, an employer does not automatically escape its work comp insurance responsibilities by classifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees. This is true even if the employer refers to them as such and treats them as such for tax purposes (i.e., issuing a Form 1099).
Indeed, the Industrial Commission is vested with the authority to determine whether workers are employees or independent contractors, and take the necessary action in the event of misclassification.
It may not be entirely clear to the employees of subcontractors where to look in the event of a serious workplace injury. As we stated earlier, however, state law dictates that their employer, if they have more than three employees, must have work comp insurance.
Interestingly enough, state law also dictates that it's possible for injured employees of subcontractors who have otherwise failed to carry the necessary work comp insurance to seek coverage through the business that subcontracted the work.
As far as the motivation to abide by the Workers' Compensation Act, employees should consider that noncompliant employers can face misdemeanor or felony charges punishable by steep fines and even imprisonment.
If you have been injured on the job and are experiencing problems with securing the necessary work comp benefits, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options.