When you're hurt on the job, it's not unusual to receive a lot of information and advice from a variety of sources. However, not all of it will be helpful, useful, or truthful. There are many myths surrounding workers' compensation that, if you believe them, can cause you to miss out on being compensated for your injuries. To help you take the right steps when handling your claim, here is the truth behind two of those myths.
Myth #1- You Can't Collect If You Were High or Drunk
The myth that causes many injured employees the most problems is that they are barred from collecting workers' compensation if they test positive for drugs or alcohol. OSHA found up to 20 percent of people involved in fatalities on the job test positive for alcohol or drugs, so it's understandable why being barred from collecting workers' comp for consumption of these substances may be a concern.
In general, having drugs or alcohol in your system won't bar you from getting paid for your injuries. If a forklift operator runs over your foot and breaks your toes, you would still be eligible for payments from the insurance provider regardless of what the tests showed.
That said, sometimes states will deny claims in cases where the person's intoxication contributed to the accident. If you were driving the forklift and ran into a wall because you were too intoxicated to properly maneuver the vehicle, then you may have trouble collecting compensation. Even then, it is up to the employer and workers' comp to prove your impairment contributed to the incident, which may be difficult to do.
Myth #2 – You're Not Classified as an Employee, So You Can't File a Claim
This myth is a little tricky because it is true for some people. Independent contractors are not company employees and, therefore, not eligible for workers' comp. The problem is that some employers purposefully misclassify employees as independent contractors specifically to dodge paying workers' comp premiums for their workforce. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), an estimated 30 percent of workers are misclassified.
Even if your employer has you listed as an independent contractor, you can still collect workers' compensation if you can prove you are an employee according to the factors the IRS looks at when determining if a person is an employee or independent contractor. The agency looks at the degree of control an employer has over the person. The individual in question may be considered an employee if the employer controls the work the person does (e.g. how and when), trains the individual, decides how much and when the person gets paid, and tells the person what to wear, among other things.
For more information about these and other workers' compensation myths, contact a workers' compensation attorney.