It’s true that most workers in Colorado are covered by the workers’ compensation system. But that fact comes as no comfort to the significant number of injured workers who do not have worker’s compensation insurance. They end up paying some or all of their medical costs from their own pockets.
Who is covered by Colorado workers’ compensation?
The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act provides some very specific answers to that question. In short, any business that has at least one employee (not including a sole proprietor) must purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a provider or self-insure. A publication by the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation lists some exceptions to this requirement:
- Casual maintenance or repair work performed for a business for under $2,000 per calendar year.
- Certain domestic work, maintenance or repair work for a private homeowner that is not done full time.
- Licensed real estate agents and brokers working on commission
- For-hire transportation providers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft
- Drivers under a lease agreement with a common or contract carrier, when the carrier has offered the driver workers’ compensation insurance
- Any person who volunteers time or services for a ski area operator
- Persons who provide host home services as part of residential services and supports
- Federal and railroad employees (covered under federal laws)
- Independent contractors
When is an independent contractor exempt from workers’ compensation?
The law presumes that person who receives pay in exchange for work is an employee, unless they are specifically exempted or they meet the strict definition of “independent contractor”. To be truly independent, a contractor must meet both of these requirements:
- Be free from the business’ control and direction over how the work is performed
- Customarily engaged in a trade, occupation or profession directly related to the work being performed
A written contract may be helpful in establishing independent status, but it is not necessary.
What if you are injured and are a contractor or exempt?
If you work as an independent contractor, the facts of your work situation may actually make you an employee, entitling you to coverage and workers’ compensation benefits. If you really are an independent contractor or work in an occupation that is specifically exempt, there may be another avenue to getting compensation – a third-party claim.
If you have suffered an injury while working, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.