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Can Temporary Workers Have Access to Workers Comp?

A recent analysis of workers’ compensation claims found that temporary workers are more likely to suffer job-related injuries than permanent employees in the same industries. The researchers focused on training received by temporary workers and wrote that training may be particularly important for younger and less experienced temporary workers.

Workers’ compensation insurance provides medical benefits and partial wage replacement for workers injured on the job.

The study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzed more than 1.3 million workers’ compensation claims from 2001–2013, including 45,046 claims from workers employed by temporary service agencies, to compare the injury risk for temporary and permanent workers.

“The differences in injury rates for temporary and permanent workers were pronounced in certain industries — agriculture, construction and extraction — as well as for causes of injuries — contact with objects and equipment and exposure to harmful substances or environments,” according to BLR, a safety compliance consultant reporting the study.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data “indicates that temporary workers are especially likely to have manufacturing jobs, with 32.2% of temporary agency workers reporting employment in manufacturing, the study authors wrote for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The researchers concluded that:

  • the prevention of injuries among temporary workers must include proper training.
  • training may be especially important for younger and less experienced temporary workers.
  • training for temporary workers should occur both before placement at the worksite and continue after placement.
  • there should be an increased safety focus when temporary workers are placed in high-risk industries such as agriculture, construction, and manufacturing.

Several states have established Right‐to‐Know laws to inform temporary workers of their rights under the Workers’ Compensation system, such as the right to proper training as well as workers’ comp benefits if injured on the job, the researchers noted.

Temporary Staffing Covered by Workers’ Compensation in N.C.

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program, and almost all companies in North Carolina, including temp agencies, that employ three or more part-time or full-time employees are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to employees. Part-time workers and most temporary staffing may qualify as employees under N.C. workers’ comp law and be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

An independent contractor — a person who provides specific services based on a written or oral contract and controls his or her own work schedule — is not eligible to receive workers’ compensation coverage. However, some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits.

If you are working through a temporary employment agency, you are employed and may be eligible for workers’ compensation. There are also guidelines to determine whether a worker qualifies as an employee.

The N.C. Industrial Commission, which oversees workers’ compensation in the state, will determine whether the injured worker is really an employee and not an independent contractor. However, the commission often works from information supplied by the employer. If you think that you have been incorrectly classified as an independent contractor, you should consult an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney immediately.

What Happens to a Temporary Worker Injured At Work?

As a temporary employee on a job, in most cases, you are an employee of an agency contracted by a company to supply extra labor on a temporary or part-time basis. This means your workers’ compensation coverage is provided by the agency, not the company for which you perform the job duties. Your claim should progress normally through the temporary agency’s workers’ comp provider.

What many temp workers do not understand is that this arrangement potentially makes more compensation available to them after a workplace accident and injury.

Under N.C. workers’ compensation law, in exchange for providing employees with workers’ comp insurance, employers are immune from lawsuits regarding accidents and injuries at work. Workers’ comp is no-fault insurance. The injured employee is entitled to certain benefits regardless of whether he or she was at fault.

Injured workers also may have a legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit against an individual or business, other than the employer, after a workplace injury. For example, the Acme Company may be subject to a legal claim if you were injured while working there but an employee of a temporary employment agency. Others on the job site — contractors, vendors, co-workers — may also be subject to claims if they caused your injury, because they are not your employer.

While workers’ comp reimburses the injured for medical bills and a portion of lost wages, a personal injury claim may seek additional compensation, such as for pain and suffering, property damage and, in some cases, as punitive compensation for egregious disregard for others’ safety.

A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can review the circumstances of your injury and discuss your legal options.

Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Temporary Workers

If you are a temporary worker who has been injured on the job and lost work time in central North Carolina, contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., in Raleigh about your workers’ compensation case. An initial consultation is free and without further obligation. We can explain how your workers’ comp claim should move forward and what you need to do to protect your claim. Our attorneys are ready to fight workers’ comp insurers to obtain the full and proper settlement that you deserve.

Our team at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks P.A. can investigate the circumstances of your accident to determine whether a third-party personal injury claim is appropriate. Workplace injuries can be costly, keeping you out of work for months or limiting your ability to return to work. You deserve the maximum compensation available for your losses now and in the future.

With us fighting for you, you can focus on getting your life back together. Call us now or contact us online for a free claim review and advice about your legal options.

About the Author

David E. Vtipil
David Vtipil is an attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks and concentrates his law practice in injuries due to negligence and workers' comp. David E. Vtipil was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Workers’ Compensation Law.

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