Law Office of James M. Hoffmann Articles Are Manual Laborers Who Are Independent Contractors Covered By Workers Comp?

Are Manual Laborers Who Are Independent Contractors Covered By Workers Comp?

By James Hoffmann  Jul. 10, 2019 4:38p

Workers compensation is an insurance policy that protects both the employee and employer in case something goes wrong in the line of duty.

If the worker gets injured at work, they can receive some financial benefit that could cover the cost of their medical treatment and subsequent therapy, even accounting partially for the days they have to miss work to get better. Employers, on the other hand, generally cannot get sued by workers for negligence. Because of this, it is in everyone’s best interests for workers compensation benefits to apply.

However, the law has certain limitations.

Who’s Covered by Workers Comp?

According to Missouri law, any entity with more than five employees must provide workers compensation for their workers. The law does not cover freelance workers or independent contractors, as the employee-employer relationship is slightly different in this case.

For independent contractors, the person they are working for isn’t necessarily an employer. The employer does not have the same legal obligations for independent contractors as they would for employees. Independent contractors are, in a way, self-employed individuals.

Misclassified Workers

If you applied for workers compensation and were denied because the employer claims you are an independent contractor, that may not be entirely true. Missouri recognizes that workers can be misclassified and offer some tools where workers can report an alleged misclassification.

Under the law, the difference between an employee and an independent contractor lies with the employer’s rights what to do, and how. If you, as a manual laborer, are told specifically what tasks you have to perform and how you should perform them by your boss, then the law may see you as an employee.

Independent contractors have the liberty to determine themselves what needs to be done and how in the scope of a project or job should evolve. Though they may consult with the entity they were hired by, they ultimately have the freedom to proceed as they consider best to get the job done. Employees, on the other hand, have to comply with the rules and courses of action established by the individuals who hired them.

Have You Been Misclassified?

Whether done intentionally or not, misclassification of your state of employment can have negative effects on the benefits and rights you’d normally have as an employee, including workers compensation. If you suspect this is the case, it’s imperative to consult with a St. Louis workers' compensation attorney to review your case and know how to move forward.


You may need to file a complaint with the Department of Labor to inform them of the misclassification, and then proceed to apply for workers' comp when that issue is resolved. If not, you still have other legal options for getting compensated for your injuries. Your St. Louis workers comp lawyer can present them and recommend the best one for your situation.

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