Baehman Law

Independent contractor status issues in construction accidents


When a worker gets hurt in a construction accident, it may be hard for that worker, or the family, to know to whom to turn in order to get compensation. In theory, the construction worker's own employer should have worker's compensation available to cover the injured worker's medical bills and lost wages.

Unfortunately, though, some construction outfits choose to ignore this law. In other cases, a worker may find he or she is without benefits because of an honest mistake or a misunderstanding of Minnesota law.

In our state, construction workers who were performing work either as or for a subcontractor may be able to piggyback on to workers' compensation program of the general contractor. For those who might not know the nuances, a general contractor agrees with the property owner to manage the entire project, but it will then turn to several subcontractors to do pieces of the job.

So, a general contractor building a house will likely subcontract the process of laying plumbing or wiring the home to a company that specializes in those tasks. To protect subcontractors, Minnesota has a pretty strict test that consists of nine parts. Only when all nine parts of the test are satisfied can a general contractor avoid having to pay benefits for a worker associated with a subcontractor. Otherwise, the general contractor must treat the subcontractor as an employee for the purpose of paying workers' compensation.

For injured construction workers in and around the Twin Cities, what this means is that there may be other options available if it turns out they will not otherwise get benefits. Exploring all options may be essential because these benefits are often necessary to foot medical bills and cover lost income.

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