This guest blog is brought to you by Joel Syder. He is a freelance consultant and writer. Thanks for contributing, Joel!
Here’s an interesting question you might not have thought about before:
How do workplace injury laws apply to you when you’re working as a freelancer or independent contractor?
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what job you have—website design, graphic design, writer, you name it—being your own boss is great.
But when it comes to workers’ compensation laws, things can get complicated.
For instance, let’s say you go start working on a project and end up hurting yourself somehow. It ultimately ends with you owing a large sum in medical bills that you can’t pay. What are you going to do? What are your rights? What happens if it wasn’t your fault whatsoever, but the fault of the workplace?
Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know.
Cover yourself first
Wherever a serious accident takes place, you’ll likely need medical assistance fast. This is going to cost money. Whether you were at fault or not, the process of getting the money back can take weeks, months, or even years—and as a freelancer, this can leave you in a lot of debt.
This is because independent contractors and freelancers generally aren’t eligible for workers' compensation coverage and employers aren’t required by law to purchase coverage for independent contractors.
The best way to proceed is to cover all bases and take out your own private health insurance. This way, you can be sure you won’t have to pay for any medical treatment directly out of your savings account, but rather through insurance.
According to Insureon, an online insurance agency headquartered in Chicago:
“Even if you already have health insurance, most policies exclude coverage for work-related illnesses and injuries. Purchasing independent contractor workers' comp insurance ensures that if you're injured while working, your medical bills will be covered. Workers' comp can also help replace lost wages while you're unable to work.”
A freelancer-friendly policy will aim to protect you from the debt of medical bills as well as loss of income you may sustain—both of which can cause serious problems in the future if left unattended.
Communicate with the company
While you’re working at a company, especially if you’re working there for some time, you may be entitled to a contract in which you become a “temporary employee” of the company and are therefore entitled to the benefits the company provides, such as personal injury protection.
For example, if someone unofficially retires, but the company still wants them to work here and there because of the unique skills or knowledge they have, they could be officially a freelancer while still entitled to the benefits and policies offered by the company.
Freelancing doesn’t just mean providing digital services, and even workers who operate heavy machinery like truck drivers or forklift drivers can still be classed as freelancers. All freelancers and independent contractors should research what benefits and policies the company is willing to offer them.
Work with companies that have a good reputation
This one might seem obvious, but if you’re working with a company that has a bad name, well they have a bad name for a reason. While the money for working with a certain company might seem lucrative, if you get a bad feeling about them and their willingness to treat you fairly, then trust your gut.
The short-term gain for working with a less reputable company might be incredibly damaging in the long-term. Research the company, look into what they’re offering and make the decision that’s best for you.
Seek legal advice
If you ever find yourself in a position where something has happened and you need legal help, there’s no better place to get the information you need than from a professional, qualified and fully licensed personal injury attorney.
This is so important because searching online can provide false information or may tell you facts that aren’t relevant in your case or location. Always seek out help for the best results and assistance.