Lack of evidence of profit motive nixes worker's bid for benefits
Raymond v. Uninsured Employers' Fund, No. 2007-2021 (Mont. Work. Comp. 09/04/09).
Ruling: The Montana Worker's Compensation Court concluded that the worker was engaged in "casual employment" at the time of his injury, and was not an employee of the homeowner for purposes of workers' compensation coverage.
What it means:
In Montana, casual employees are not entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits if they are injured on a job. Casual employment is employment that is not in the usual course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of the employer.
Summary: A worker was injured when a saw lacerated his finger while he was working on a private residence. His acquaintance had asked him to assist in the construction of a log cabin because the construction crew was shorthanded. The project was to take a couple weeks. The worker testified he was not provided with a W-2 or other employment forms. He also testified that workers' compensation coverage was not discussed, nor was the method of payment. The worker argued the paychecks he received bearing the homeowner's business name and address were evidence he was employed by the homeowner. The homeowner testified he wrote both personal and business checks from the checking account. The homeowner also alleged he did not possess a profit motive because he did not intend to sell the cabin but anticipated using it as a second home. The court ruled that the worker was engaged in casual employment, and was not an employee of the homeowner or his business.
The worker argued the homeowner was in the business of buying and selling real estate, and that a letter the homeowner had written for him demonstrated that he was an employee of the business. The court determined there was insufficient evidence that the homeowner intended to use the property as a business expense. It also determined the worker did not produce sufficient evidence the homeowner intended for him work as an employee, noting the letter was written at the worker's request to assist the worker in getting insurance for his daughter.
The court rejected the worker's argument that the duration of his employment by the homeowner -- 10 months -- demonstrated that the employment was not casual. The court explained that the type of work, rather than the duration, determines whether the employment is casual.
Read more at the WORKERSCOMP ForumTM homepage.
October 12, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications