Hourly pay, supervision by farm employee show helper is employee
Case name: Tate v. Loftus d/b/a West Point Farms, No. COA12-1468 (N.C. Ct. App. 07/02/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that a carpenter's helper was an employee of a farm and was entitled to benefits for his injury.
What it means:
In North Carolina, an injured worker cannot be considered an employee of the employer if his supervisor who hired him was an independent contractor.
A maintenance worker for a farm was paid a monthly salary and allowed to live in a trailer owned by the farm owners without paying rent. The worker hired a carpenter's helper to help him do work on the farm owners' home and the farm vehicles and equipment. The worker submitted the hours the helper worked to the owners, and they paid the helper in cash. The owners allowed the helper to live in the trailer with the worker. The owners hired other workers and allowed them to move into the trailer.
The worker and helper moved into a barn where they were allowed to build an apartment. While the helper was smoking a cigarette and marking the location for the framing of the apartment with a can of spray paint, the paint can exploded. The helper suffered burns. He sought workers' compensation benefits. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
The court concluded that the worker was an employee of the farm rather than an independent contractor. The court also found that the helper was an employee of the farm. He was paid by the hour and allowed to live on the property. The farm owners provided most of the tools and materials necessary to perform his work. The worker supervised the helper and maintained control over his work. Therefore, the helper was entitled to bring a workers' compensation claim.
The court found that the helper's injury arose out of his employment because the construction of the apartment in the barn was necessary since he and the worker were forced to move from the trailer into the barn. The court also found that the helper's injury arose in the course of his employment because his injury occurred during the hours of his employment, at the place of his employment, and in the performance of his employment duties.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 30, 2013
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