How to Claim Workers Comp Benefits If You’re Self-Employed

The woman is learning how to claim workers' benefits if self-employed.

Though workers comp rules vary per state, almost all require employers to provide workers comp insurance. Self-employed individuals are usually left to fend for themselves.

So, if you’re a business owner or an independent contractor, chances are you don’t have workers’ compensation coverage. This might not matter much for now, but it will if you get hurt on the job. That’s why many self-employed people wonder if they can claim workers’ compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses.

The short answer is yes. Depending on the circumstances of their injury, self-employed workers may file a workers’ compensation claim. However, they may have difficulty without worker’s compensation insurance coverage.                 

If you’re self-employed and were hurt on the job, here’s what you need to know about claiming self-employed workers comp benefits.                                    


Workers’ compensation is designed to protect people from financial distress caused by work-related injury and illness. It assures that even if you get injured and cannot work, you can still meet your living expenses and pay for medical bills.

If you’re a business owner with no employees, a work-related injury can temporarily close your business. For independent contractors, injury can lead to lost contracts and even lawsuits. Without workers’ compensation insurance, you risk financial ruin. You won’t receive help with medical expenses or compensation for lost wages.

They may not cover work-related injuries even if you already have personal or business insurance. So getting workers’ compensation insurance on top of that is always a good idea. With enough funds for medical expenses and lost wages, keeping your business afloat or meeting contract deadlines while recovering from your injuries won’t be hard.


Workers’ compensation insurance for independent contractors and business owners is optional. However, some states require individuals in high-risk industries to get one, even if they don’t have anyone working for them.

In Florida, for example, sole proprietors and partners in the construction industry need workers’ compensation coverage. Otherwise, they can’t get permits and may even have to pay penalties. Unlike their counterparts in non-construction industries, they are not eligible for exemption. California workers’ compensation laws also require every self-employed worker to get workers’ compensation insurance.

Some clients may require contractors to get workers’ comp coverage before signing a contract. Independent contractors often find it easier to get hired for projects when they already have workers’ compensation coverage.


Definitely! Most insurance companies offer workers’ compensation insurance for the self-employed. Some states also have a state-sponsored Workers Compensation Fund allowing individual contractor coverage.

The premium varies per person. How much you’ll pay depends on certain factors like:

  • where you live
  • the kind of work you do
  • your insurance claims history
  • your income

Unsurprisingly, the riskier your work, the higher the premium you’ll have to pay. If you’ve claimed workers’ compensation benefits, this can also increase your business insurance cost. Since lost wages compensation is based on a portion of your earnings, insurance providers also take your average earnings into account.


Some business owners are tempted to get a ghost policy in states where workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory, even for self-employed contractors.

A workers comp ghost policy is specifically designed for contractors who need proof of workers comp coverage to comply with state policies or client requests. This is especially common for those working in a high-risk industry. Because it’s only for compliance purposes, it’s much cheaper than a workers’ compensation policy. But it also offers no real insurance coverage.

So, if you plan on getting one, you might want to think about it thoroughly, especially if you’re working in a high-risk industry. Since the insurance covers nothing, you won’t be able to get anything at all if you’re injured on the job. Plus, your client may have to pay for your medical bills, which can raise the cost of workers’ compensation insurance. Because of this, they might never want to work with you again.


Claim workers’ compensation benefits, whether you’re employed or self-employed, is similar. If you’re employed, you’ll typically have to inform your employer about your injury, which your employer is then required to report to your insurance provider. When you’re self-employed, however, you must report any injury and illness directly to your insurance provider.

But the process is pretty much the same after you report your injury. You will have to produce evidence of your injury or illness. You must submit medical records, doctor’s reports, and other documents proving you were hurt at work. You may also have to produce witnesses to support your claim.

Your insurance provider will then use those pieces of evidence to verify your claim. They may also send a workers comp investigator to follow you and ensure you are injured. If there’s doubt about your claim, they may deny your benefits. Many workers comp claims are denied at the initial application stage.

If your claim is denied, you can still appeal. You will then go through a negotiation and mediation process. If you can’t agree on a settlement, you may have to take your case to court. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, the entire process can take months or even years.


As a self-employed individual, you are entitled to the same type of workers comp benefits as employed individuals. This means you’re entitled to medical, lost wages, and other benefits covered by workers comp policies in your state. Depending on your injury, you can claim up to 80% of your average weekly earnings before you get injured. Check your state’s compensation laws or talk to your workers’ comp attorney.

The man is looking for articles that will help him get workers' benefits if he is self-employed.


Employees who get hurt can usually sue their employers for compensation. However, such an option is not available to self-employed individuals. You’re your boss, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll take yourself to court.

So, who can you hold liable for a work-related injury?

It depends. In some states, like Florida, you cannot hold your client liable for any work-related injury if they’ve fully disclosed the hazards of the job. This means you took on the job knowing full well of the risks, so the blame falls on no one but you.

However, this isn’t absolute. The law provides that you can still sue your client for compensation if they:

  • exercise direct control in the work that you do (this essentially makes them your employer even if they claim otherwise)
  • negligently approves the dangerous working conditions

If your injury is due to negligence, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t claim workers comp from your insurance provider. Some states allow you to file workers’ compensation claims no matter whose fault the injury is, as long as it’s work-related.


If you already have workers’ compensation insurance, you’ll most likely get benefits if you get injured on the job. But even if you don’t, claiming workers comp benefits is still possible.

As mentioned earlier, you can sue for compensation if your client has direct control of the work that you do. If you aren’t able to do your job your way, you’re not a contractor but an employee. As such, they should provide you with workers comp coverage.

It’s also not unheard of for employers to erroneously classify employees as individual contractors to get away with employee benefits. So, most states have put sanctions in place for erring employers. If you prove you are an employee rather than a contractor, you are more likely to get workers’ comp benefits. Your employer may even have to face steep penalties.

But proving such can be difficult, time-consuming, and terribly exhausting, especially if you’re still recovering from an injury. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer like Victor Malca can take this burden off you. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida fight for their benefits, and he can help you get the benefits you deserve, too. Call us now for a free consultation.

VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.

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