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Employee or independent contractor? For workers’ comp, commission is last word

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Independent contractors aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits paid by their contractor’s insurer, but employees are. But determining who is an independent contractor and who is an employee under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is anything but easy. The last word will likely be that of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

That’s why it is important to have an experienced attorney who also understands workers’ compensation. Have counsel review any independent-contractor agreements you use to minimize the chance the commission will decide the contractor is really your employee.

Recent case: Donald Robertson signed an independent-contractor agreement with Motor Express. He leased
the truck and Motor Express paid him a percentage of the receipts collected per load. When Robertson was injured, he filed for compensation benefits.

An arbitrator said Robertson was an independent contractor, but the commission disagreed, pointing to elements of control exercised by Motor Express. The company appealed the case to the Illinois Supreme Court, which said it wouldn’t overturn the commission’s conclusions without compelling evidence it had been wrong. (Robertson v. Industrial Commission, No. 102723, Supreme Court of Illinois, 2007)

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