A recent workers’ compensation case in Missouri highlights how the law can apply to less conventional employment schemes, like contractors and subcontractors.
Carpenter Hurt on the Job
Back in October, 2015, a homeowner in the Kansas City, Missouri area hired a Sunshine Home Improvements to do some work. Sunshine turned around and hired a subcontractor, Done-Rite Home Improvement, to do some of the carpentry work. While Done-Rite accepted the work, it brought on another worker to perform it. This worker had his own business, Welcome Home Exteriors, LLC, but Done-Rite hired him on an individual basis. Done-Rite also paid him in cash that did not pass through his company.
Agreements like this happen all the time in construction and home improvement. It is only when something goes wrong that confusion reigns.
In this case, the carpenter fell from a ladder while working the job. He hurt his lower back, broke his fibula and suffered nerve damage in his leg, and tore his rotator cuff.
The Search for Workers’ Compensation Coverage
When the carpenter sought workers’ compensation for his injuries, he discovered that Done-Rite was uninsured. Additionally, his own workers’ compensation insurance Welcome Home Exteriors, LLC would not cover his injuries because he had been working as an individual at the time of the accident.
Therefore, his only option was to prove that he was eligible for workers’ compensation from Sunshine Home Improvements, the company that hired the company that hired him.
This claim went before an administrative law judge in the case Cleghorn v. Welcome Home Exteriors and Done-Rite Home Improvement.
General Contractor Forced to Cover Worker’s Injuries
An important section of Missouri’s workers’ compensation law is the one that deals with contractors and subcontractors. Missouri statute 287.040 states that individuals who are working for subcontractors are technically “employees” of the companies all the way up the chain of command. However, when looking for a source of workers’ compensation coverage, these individuals have to move up this chain, one step at a time.
Therefore, because the carpenter was hired on an individual basis and not through his own company, his “employers” on the job were, in order:
- Done-Rite Home Improvement
- Sunshine Home Improvements
However, because Done-Rite was uninsured, the carpenter’s workers’ compensation coverage had to come from Sunshine, instead.
Of course, if Done-Rite had brought the carpenter into the job by subcontracting with the carpenter’s LLC, rather than hiring him personally and paying him in cash, then the workers’ compensation coverage from the carpenter’s company would have paid for his injuries.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Confusing and nontraditional employment structures like these happen all the time in construction and home improvement. Unfortunately, these are also the places where workers tend to get hurt while on the job.
Having a personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney help you through the process and find a source of coverage can make a huge difference in your case. Reach out to the lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph for the legal help you need. Call us at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.