Your Employee Could be Exempt from Workers’ Compensation


Workers’ compensation laws in West Virginia and in most states are expansive and cover nearly every business. There are, however, a number of exceptions small businesses and startups can use to allay the cost of workers’ compensation premiums while still meeting their legal obligations. These exceptions have become increasingly prominent as many new companies move away from traditional business models. Even larger and more traditional businesses can save on workers’ compensation premiums by being sure to correctly classify their workers. The comprehensive workers’ compensation practice of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe helps employers and small businesses throughout West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky make good decisions about workers’ compensation coverage while still meeting their legal obligations.


Any business with even one employee in any capacity must carry workers’ compensation insurance. But the definition of employee can be somewhat uncertain. Companies exclusively using independent contractors can apply to be exempt from workers’ compensation requirements. Moreover, employees at small companies where owners, partners, officers, members, managers and other individuals are shareholders can waive workers’ compensation coverage, obviating the need for insurance if all such employees agree to a waiver.


Because workers’ compensation insurance carriers usually assess premiums based on the number and type of employees, correctly classifying them is crucial. As is the case with small businesses, independent contractors and subcontractors are not employees for workers’ compensation purposes. But the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is not clearly delineated, and the Office of the Insurance Commissioner considers several factors in making this determination, including:

  • Ownership of the worker’s tools and equipment
  • Control over the worker’s schedule
  • Degree of supervision over the worker’s activities
  • The language of the contract with the worker
  • The number of other parties contracted for similar work

As a workers’ compensation law firm serving businesses in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe advise businesses as to how personnel changes can affect their workers’ compensation obligations. Our attorneys can also draft contracts and establish policies to ensure that independent contractors are correctly classified as such to keep workers’ compensation expenses in check. Using our combined workers’ compensation and insurance defense experience, we can help businesses decide whether hiring employees or independent contractors is more cost-effective from a liability standpoint.

Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe helps employers make smart workers’ comp decisions

Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe’s attorneys can assist businesses of all types in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky in making decisions that affect their workers’ compensation obligations. Call us at 304-344-0100 or contact us online to begin a relationship with a law firm that is nationally recognized for experience and quality while remaining dedicated to its community and employees.