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But my employer told me that I was an independent contractor...

Under the Arizona Workers' Compensation system, employees who are hurt in the course and scope of their employment are covered. However, many times a claim for workers' compensation may be denied because of the employer's assertion that the employee was an independent contractor. Many employers do not understand that just because they call someone an independent contractor does not mean that they are indeed an independent contractor.

A.R.S. § 23-902(C) defines an independent contractor as "[a] person engaged in work for a business, and who while so engaged is independent of that business in the execution of the work and not subject to the rule or control of the business for which the work is done, but is engaged only in the performance of a definite job or piece of work, and is subordinate to that business only in effecting a result in accordance with that business design." [1]

So what makes a person an independent contractor? It really depends. There are several factors that courts look at including but not limited to: the duration of employment, the method of payment, the right to hire and fire, who furnishes equipment, whether the work was performed in the usual and regular course of the employer's business, and the extent to which the employer may exercise control over the details of the work. [2] However, none of those factors are conclusive. Any decision regarding whether someone is an independent contractor must be based on the totality of the circumstances. [3]

Past Arizona court decisions chart the vast possibilities of coverage. For example, in Anton v. Industrial Comm'n, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a woodcutter was covered because supplying pulpwood was the extent of the contractor's operations. [4] Similarly, in Central Management v. Industrial Comm'n, the Arizona Court of Appeals opined that a cab driver was covered because providing cab services was the core of the employer's business. [5]

Have you been injured at work and are not sure whether you would qualify as an employee under the Arizona Workers' Compensation Act? You should contact one of the attorneys at Fendon Law Firm to ensure you are receiving the benefits you may deserve. At Fendon Law Firm, we are a compassionate family workers' compensation firm that cares about each and every one of our clients. Please feel free to contact Fendon Law Firm for any questions about workers' compensation, Social Security disability, or employment law issues. We now have offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Prescott Valley.


[1] Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23-902(C).

[2] Home Ins. Co. v. Industrial Comm'n, 123 Ariz. 348, 599 P.2d 801 (1979).

[3] Id.

[4] Anton v. Industrial Comm'n, 141 Ariz. 566, 569, 688 P.2d 192, 195 (Ct. App. 1984).

[5] Central Management v. Industrial Comm'n, 162 Ariz. 187, 190 781 P.2d 1374, 1377 (Ct. App. 1989).

Categories: Employment Law