Can Freelancers File Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Posted by Amy FalconFeb 26, 2024


Virginia is one of the best states for freelance workers, with more than 2.4% of the population participating in the gig economy. Most freelancers love it for the flexibility and freedom the arrangement provides. But they do miss out on some of the big advantages of being a traditional employee, like benefits. These include health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, and the ability to file a workers' compensation claim if they're injured at work.


Without this option, what can freelancers do if they're injured on the job?


Freelance and Workers' Compensation Claims


Workers' compensation is insurance that provides medical care and other benefits for workers who become sick or are injured due to their jobs. Most employers with at least three employees, including part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, must carry workers' compensation coverage.


There's one catch: Under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, employers are only required to cover employees, not independent contractors. However, before you assume you're out in the cold, there's one important caveat: Just because an employer calls you an independent contractor, that doesn't mean you are one. You'll want to verify that your classification as an independent contractor is correct before you dismiss the idea of filing a workers' compensation claim. Under the Act, you're only not an employee if your “employment is not in the usual course of the trade, business, occupation, or profession of the employer.”


Independent Contractor Versus Employee


In Virginia, eligibility for workers' compensation benefits comes down to whether you're an employee or an independent contractor. By law, the employee has the burden of proving that they were an employee at the time of the injury.   The question of whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor comes down to how much control an employer has over your work. 


According to the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission, “A person is generally considered an employee if: 1) they are selected, 2) can be dismissed, 3) earn pay or wages, and 4) control is exercised over the means and method by which the work is performed. The last factor is given the greatest weight.” If your employer has this control over your work, you'll likely be considered an employee. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer can help you determine whether you're an independent contractor or an employee.


The Attorneys at Ackerman & Falcon Can Help


If you've been injured on the job and you're concerned about your workers' compensation eligibility, you don't have to figure it out alone. The skilled attorneys at Ackerman & Falcon are here to assist. We have more than three decades of experience helping injured workers in Virginia, and we fight for the rights of workers' comp claimants just like you. Call us at 703-288-1400 or contact us online to schedule your free worker's comp consultation.