Massachusetts Court Rejects Independent Contractor’s Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) protects employees in that it allows them to recover workers’ compensation benefits following workplace injuries. It is important to note, however, that only employees are afforded such rights. In other words, independent contractors, volunteers, and other non-employee workers cannot recover benefits under the Act. A Massachusetts court recently explained the factors weighed in determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor in a case in which it ultimately denied the claimant’s claim for benefits. If you were hurt while working, it is important to understand your rights, and you should speak with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you may be owed benefits.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the claimant began working for a newspaper delivery service in 2001. She signed numerous contracts throughout the years that defined her as an independent contractor. Under the terms of the contract, she could make deliveries at any time and in any order, as long as they were completed by a certain time. She used her own car to make deliveries and was paid for each newspaper she delivered.

It is reported that the claimant’s contract was not exclusive, and she was permitted to make deliveries for other companies as well. In September 2010, the claimant fell and injured her right hand and knee when she was making deliveries. She fell again in January 2011, sustaining injuries that required surgery and hospitalization. She filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in 2012, and the insurer objected. An administrative judge ultimately ruled that the claimant was an independent contractor and was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The reviewing board affirmed, and the claimant appealed.

Independent Contractors Versus Employees

The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents developed a ten part test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The test was later enlarged to twelve parts. In contrast, the Massachusetts independent contractor statute states that a person performing any service for an employer will be considered an employee unless the service is performed outside of the employer’s usual scope of business, the person is free from the direction or control of the employer with regard to the performance of the service, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, profession, or occupation of the same nature as the service provided to the employer. In the subject case, the court ultimately found that the claimant was an independent contractor, not an employee. Thus, it affirmed the denial of her claim.

Speak to an Assertive Massachusetts Attorney

People who sustain injuries while working may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, but only if they meet the requirements imposed by the Act. If you were hurt on the job, you should speak to an attorney to evaluate what benefits you may be able to recover. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an assertive Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer with the skills and experience needed to help you seek a just outcome, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Meehan by calling 508-822-6600 or via the form online to set up a meeting.