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Who Can Be Excluded From Workers’ Comp Coverage & How to Make Sure You’re Protected

Thousands of employees in Winston-Salem and across North Carolina every year take advantage of workers’ compensation coverage to help them get through serious accidents they suffer in the course of their job duties. Whether it’s an accident with heavy machinery, repetitive motion injuries or even a slip and fall, this no-fault form of insurance is essential protection for most workers.

The key word here, however, is “most.” There are, in fact, some employees who might be exempt from workmans’ comp, and it’s important to understand whether you’re in that group so that you can make alternate arrangements to protect yourself if needed. Learn about workers’ compensation exclusions, who isn’t eligible for coverage and what you can do to make sure you’re protected from a workplace injury.

Workers’ Compensation Exclusion

Some employees in the United States are subject to workers’ compensation exclusion; that is, they are not eligible to receive compensation coverage even if they’re injured in the normal course of their work duties. It could be due to the number of employees in a company, the type of labor performed or a range of other qualifications.

Minimum Employee Requirements

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books requiring every employer with at least one employee to carry coverage. North Carolina, however, is one of 11 states which raises this limit. In our state, an employer must only provide workers’ comp if they have at least three employees on their payroll.

Casual Work Limits

Workers engaged in “casual labor” aren’t usually covered by workers’ compensation because they’re not considered to be employees in the traditional sense. While each state has different definitions of what counts as casual work, for the most part, it’s work that isn’t in the usual course of a given business. An example is an office building that hires a landscaper for groundskeeping or a contractor hired to upgrade a manufacturing plant.

Domestic Workers

In general, someone who works as a domestic employee, that is, someone who does individual work in a home like a housekeeper or in-home caregiver is not required to be covered under workers’ compensation by the person in whose home they work. Certain employees of agencies, however, might be covered by their agency.

Agricultural Workers

Almost every state excludes agricultural workers, including those who work on farms and ranches, and those who work in aquaculture, from the requirement of compensation coverage. Much like domestic workers, agricultural workers who work for agencies, or in organizations that have more than a certain number of workers, may have coverage. In North Carolina, any agricultural employer with less than 10 full-time, non-seasonal employees don’t have to carry workers’ compensation.

Other North Carolina Exceptions

Like every state, North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act has specific exemptions in place regarding worker coverage. These include federal government employees and sellers of agricultural products who are paid on commission by the producers who prepare those same products.

In addition, those individuals who are members of LLCs or sole proprietors or partners are not considered employees for the purpose of the minimum numbers required to carry coverage. Corporate officers of S-corps or C-corps, on the other hand, are still counted towards the three-employee limit, though they can elect to exclusion from coverage.

Executive officers, directors and committee members of nonprofits, however, are not considered employees for this purpose.

Independent Contractors

Technically, independent contractors are exempt from coverage. In our state, however, simply calling an employee an independent contractor and filing 1099 may not be enough to firmly establish this status. The Industrial Commission takes into account a number of factors, including the degree of control the employer exercises over the work.

Finally, subcontractors who don’t have their own workers’ comp coverage may still be covered, depending on the specifics of the work being done, and the circumstances of the accident.

When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance but is legally required to do so, they can be subject to severe penalties, including misdemeanor or felony charges, fines, and imprisonment. Those whose claims get denied may still be able to receive compensation for their injuries with help from an experienced Winston-Salem workers’ compensation lawyer.

If you have any other questions about workers’ compensation exclusion in North Carolina or the ways in which an attorney can help your case, Lewis & Keller are here to help. We bring decades of experience to the table, and we can help your case. Give us a call or complete our online contact form for a consultation today!