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Can I get workers' comp if I'm an independent contractor?

Many San Diego businesses regularly use independent contractors to help them carry on their operations. In most cases, this is understandable enough. After all, no one is going to hire a person to wash the windows full time or, for many businesses, even clean the office.

Instead, it is usually more economical in such circumstances just to hire another business or individual to do the job, much like a private person hires repair professionals to fix his or her house or car.

It is important for those Californians who make their living as independent contractors, particularly if they are doing hazardous work, to remember that, as independent contractors, their "customer" has no obligation to provide them with workers' compensation benefits should they wind up getting hurt on the job.

Although it is therefore possible to sue the customer for negligence after an accident, an independent contractor should make sure he or she has other means available in the event of a work-related accident or illness.

However, it is an unfortunate fact that some employers, in an effort to save on workers' compensation insurance and other costs, try to label as independent contractors those who are in fact employees.

Therefore, when it comes to deciding whether a worker can collect workers' compensation, California's government starts with the assumption that the injured worker claiming benefits indeed was an employee. It is incumbent on the employer to show otherwise by proving that, in reality, the worker was an independent contractor and thus not entitled to benefits.

The status of a worker as an independent contractor is often hotly contested in a workers' compensation case, and a worker may in such situations find the help of an experienced California workers' compensation attorney essential.

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