Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

How is "employee" defined for workers' compensation purposes?

Accidents happen, but they can also be the cause of financial hardships. Workers' compensation benefits can be a real boon to injured workers who are struggling to make ends meet. It can provide periodic and consistent payouts that help an injured individual recoup lost wages and pay for unexpected medical expenses. Although it may seem like recovering these benefits is automatic upon injury, this is far from the truth. In fact, many New Yorker's see their workers' compensation claims denied, thereby necessitating an appeal.

There are a number of reasons why a workers' compensation claim can be denied. In many instances, a worker fails to prove that the injury was suffered while performing work duties, either because the injury pre-existed the accident in question or because he or she was engaging in horseplay at the time of the injury. Even more basic than that, though, is the fact that an injured worker, prior to recovering workers' compensation benefits, must show that he or she was an employee of the company from which he or she is trying to recover benefits.

Most individuals who are working will be considered an employee, including day laborers, part-time employees and even volunteers. Yet, there are instances when one may not be considered an employee and thereby disallowed from recovering workers' compensation from an employer's insurance. Therefore, to determine whether one is an employee, certain factors must be analyzed. Amongst these factors are the extent to which the employer can control the employee, whether the nature of the work performed is in line with the type of work the employer provides and whether the employer has the ability to hire and terminate the employee.

This issue is pretty narrow when compared to other workers' compensation issues, but it does exist. Those who wind up facing this problem should be sure to consult with a legal professional who will know how to approach the matter with confidence and an eye on favorable resolution.

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