NC Workers' Comp Examples of Employee Classification

painter work injuryThe defining line between employee or independent contractor is not clear in every industry and for every position. Some employers attempt to classify workers as independent contractors in efforts to avoid payment of workers' compensation benefits. However, every work injury claim is reviewed by the Industrial Commission. Our North Carolina workers' comp attorneys review a few examples below of workers who were recognized as employees and not independent contractors.

Keep in mind - every case is unique and the examples below do not necessarily indicate that a similar claimant's injury case will be treated the same. It is important for individuals who have been hurt or fallen ill due to work-related conditions to seek the counsel of an attorney familiar with workers' comp law so that the worker can understand how the law applies to their specific situation. Most attorneys, like the workers' comp litigation department at Brent Adams & Associates, offer complimentary case reviews and require no up-front money from the injured worker. Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means we do not collect a cent unless we win money for the worker.

Here are a few employee classification examples:


  • A painter was held to be an employee when the evidence showed that the defendant directed the plaintiff’s work, hired his helpers and purchased his supplies.
  • An operator of a service station was held to be an employee when he operated his service station for the defendant on a commission basis, being required to keep the business open at certain hours, being told to whom to give credit, and being under the control of the president of the defendant company. 
  • A delivery man for an ice company was considered to be an employee when the defendant furnished a horse and wagon and all necessary equipment. He knew the deceased obtained a load of ice for which he was charged. It was sold at the defendant’s regular retail price and the worker was credited with the amount unsold at the end of the day.

The lesson from this section is simply that the injured employee should not accept the employer’s contention that he or she is an independent contractor. Just because an employer says that the injured worker is a contractor, does not mean that that they are not entitled to full workers’ comp benefits. (However, if the worker is not found to be an employee, understand that independent contractors are not covered by the workers’ comp law and therefore receive no benefits.)

These issues are too complex to be handled by the worker alone. These are also too important for the worker to give up on and the claim should be reviewed by a professional.