Independent contractors are not usually eligible for workers compensation benefits in Louisiana.
This is because the Louisiana workers' compensation system exists for the purpose of compensating employees for injuries resulting from their employment. Workers compensation is therefore limited to those who are actually employees of the enterprise in question, or whose functions are those of employees.
Unfortunately, this means that independent contractors are not usually eligible for workers compensation benefits in Louisiana.
But some independent contractors are able to receive workers compensation in Louisiana.
In fact, the trend under the Louisiana Act has been to include greater numbers of independent contractors. This has occurred to such an extent that one would be tempted to believe that virtually any independent contractor seems entitled to compensation.
But this is not the case, since there are still some recognizable limits on those independent contractors who may be qualified for compensation.
First of all, persons who are not under a contract at all are not going to be able to receive workers compensation benefits.
Second, workers under a contract but not rendering service to the other party are also not going to be able to receive workers compensation benefits.
Also, if an independent contractor does not spend a substantial portion of his time in manual labor in carrying out the terms of the contract, then he or she is not entitled to receive workers compensation benefits.
And even if the independent contractor satisfies the manual labor requirement, it must also be demonstrated that he or she was performing services “arising out of and incidental to his employment in the course of his employer's trade, business or occupation.”
An independent contractor seeking to be awarded compensation must satisfy both of these requirements, and if independent contractor fails to satisfy both of these requirements, then he or she is not entitled to receive workers compensation benefits. This is because a person not satisfying both of these requirements is very likely engaged in a separate business enterprise, and this separate business should cover the cost of the injury.
Examples of Excluded Independent Contractors
Independent contractors engaged to perform various domestic chores such as yard cutting, house cleaning, window washing and similar jobs — though they are engaged in manual labor — would be excluded because their services are not incidental to the employer's business.
The supervising independent contractor, who directs from afar without being close to the actual work, would also be excluded on the grounds that he is not engaged in manual labor in carrying out the contract.
And the independent contractor rendering service for a business and engaged in manual labor, but whose services are not incidental to the business, would also be excluded under Louisiana workers compensation.
But Perhaps Being Excluded As A Independent Contractor Is A Good Thing
So there are many situations - and in fact most situations - where a worker will not be entitled to workers compensation benefits because the worker is classified as an independent contractor.
But it might be in the injured worker's best interest to NOT be covered under Louisiana workers compensation. Why?
Because if another party is liable for the worker's injuries, then the injured worker could pursue those claims under a personal injury claim, which would include full lost wages, medical expenses, and (most importantly) damages for pain and suffering.
Thus, if the injured worker is not covered under Louisiana workers compensation, he or should will likely have the right to proceed in a tort claim, rather than being limited to a workers compensation claim.
For these reasons, an injured independent contractor (or an employee who might be considered an independent contractor) should always consult with an experienced Louisiana workers compensation and personal injury attorney before proceeding in his or her claim.