In South Carolina, an employee who suffers an on-the-job injury may file a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits. The three primary benefits of filing a claim for workers’ compensation are medical treatment of the employee’s injury, financial compensation for any period that the employee is held out of work by the treating physician due to the injury, and financial compensation for any permanent disability the employee has sustained following the completion of medical treatment.
Because workers’ compensation coverage only applies to injured employees, questions often arise as to whether an injured worker is an employee or an independent contractor. On June 23, 2021, the South Carolina Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Ramirez v. May River Roofing, Inc., et al., Appellate Case No. 2018-000652 addressing this common question.
In Ramirez, the question presented to the Court was whether Claimant, who was severely injured as result of a fall from a roof while performing repairs, was an employee of May River Roofing or whether he was an independent contractor, as May River Roofing asserted. In addressing this question, the Court stated:
Under settled law, the determination of whether a claimant is an employee or independent contractor focuses on the issue of control, specifically whether the purported employer had the right to control the claimant in the performance of his work. . . In evaluating the right of control, the Court examines four factors which serve as a means of analyzing the work relationship as a whole: (1) direct evidence of the right or exercise of control; (2) furnishing of equipment; (3) method of payment; and (4) right to fire.
Analyzing these factors, the Court held that (1) May River Roofing had the right to and exercised control over Ramirez in a manner consistent with an employment relationship, (2) the furnishing equipment factor weighed in favor of an employment relationship between the parties, (3) the method of payment factor weighed in favor of an independent contractor relationship, and (4) the right to fire prong did not favor either party. Considering these factors, and taking into consideration May River Roofing’s entire operation, the Court concluded that Ramirez was an employee of May River Roofing, and therefore was entitled to workers’ compensation coverage and benefits.
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