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Workers' compensation case turns on employer-employee connection

Connecticut's Workers' Compensation Commission has issued a recent decision that demonstrates the nuanced nature of the workers' compensation system and the importance of an employer-employee relationship.

In the case at issue, a worker was denied benefits for a workplace injury. The worker contended that he was working as a structural engineer for Stewart Acquisitions Corporation, LLC, where his primary job responsibilities included rectifying structural problems and overseeing personnel during a hotel renovation. While on the jobsite one day, he was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured. Subsequently, he filed a workers' compensation claim.

At the trial level, the commissioner did not find that an employer-employee relationship existed, and therefore dismissed the worker's claim. An employer-employee relationship must be present before the Workers' Compensation Commission has the authority to issue benefits. On appeal, the Compensation Review Board determined that the trial commissioner's analysis that an employer-employee relationship did not exist was reasonable, and therefore, affirmed the denial of benefits.

Significantly, the court determined that the property on which the injured worker indicated he was working was not owned by Stewart Acquisitions Corporation, but rather was owned by another company. Additionally, the worker did not receive a W-2 from Stewart, nor did he list the firm as his employer on his income tax return.

This case shows that it is essential for a worker to demonstrate that he or she is in fact an employee of a company in order to obtain workers' compensation benefits. An attorney may be able to provide invaluable assistance to an injured worker to help prove that an employer-employee relationship existed as a worker seeks to obtain benefits following a serious workplace accident.

Source: State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, "Fields v. 550 Stewart Acquisitions Corporation, et al," Jan. 15, 2016

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