As a construction worker in Illinois, you are probably keenly aware of the dangers of construction site accidents. In the average workday, you might need to work with or near heavy equipment, power tools, caustic chemicals, electrical components, scaffolds, suspended objects like girders, and much more. There is always an inherent risk of an accident or injury, more so than in the typical workplace.
With dangers being apparent in a construction site, does that mean that Illinois construction workers can rightfully assume that they are provided workers’ compensation benefits through their employer? Unlike some states, Illinois does not strictly require employers to cover construction workers with a workers’ comp policy. Instead, coverage will depend on whether or not a construction worker is classified as an independent contractor or an employee.
Independent Contractors Do Not Receive Workers’ Comp
Under Illinois law, employers are not obligated to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to independent contractors. They only have to give this coverage to employees. To try to avoid paying high workers’ compensation policy premiums, many construction companies and firms look for ways to hire a worker as an independent contractor. For example, a construction project might be split into multiple smaller side tasks, with each task going to an independent contractor like an electrician to complete electrical work on one floor.
Employment Definitions in Illinois
Problems arise when a construction company tries to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor. Misclassification, either intentional or inadvertent, occurs more often than you might think, so it could be happening to you right now if you have been performing construction work as an “independent contractor.”
In Illinois, workers must be employees unless the following are all true:
- The worker can complete their tasks without control or close direction from the employer.
- The work being done is not a service typically offered by the employer.
- The worker is also “engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business.”
The second note is usually the most problematic. People working on a construction site should be performing services usually offered by the construction company, i.e., some sort of task related to constructing a new commercial, residential, or industrial property. Because a construction worker’s tasks are essential to the services of their employer, it can be argued that all construction workers should be counted as employees, not independent contractors. Yet there are many independent contractors working on construction projects across Illinois all the same.
Not Sure If You Can File a Claim?
It is understandable if you are having a difficult time knowing your rights as a construction worker who was hurt on the job. Are you able to collect workers’ compensation benefits? Or have you been counted as an independent contractor, possibly erroneously?
The surest way to reach the answers to these common questions is to rely on the legal services of a local workers’ compensation attorney. If you work or live in Chicago, you can count on Leonard Law Group, just as more than 10,000 other clients have in the past. Call us at (312) 487-2513 or contact us online to arrange a free case evaluation, during which you can learn if you should be provided workers’ comp benefits from your employer after a construction accident.