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Benefits properly denied when claimant is an independent contractor, not employee, and the judge is not required to hold claimant as employee because of late answer to claim petition.

July 1, 2017
Justin Hawbaker v. WCAB (Kriner’s Quality Roofing Services and Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund); No. 224 C.D. 2016; Filed Feb. 13, 2017; By President Judge Leavitt

The Commonwealth Court affirmed the decisions of the Workers’ Compensation Judge and the Appeal Board in which they dismissed the claim petition and applied the 2010 Construction Workplace Misclassification Act in finding the claimant to be an independent contractor. The court pointed out that the January 2012 Independent Contractor Agreement signed by the claimant never terminated, and the defendant company did not direct the manner in which the claimant did work, a critical feature of the master servant relationship. The claimant performed the same or similar services for two other roofing companies. His Facebook page stated he was an “independent roofing contractor,” and the claimant’s insurance application identified his business and himself as the owner. Finally, the court rejected the claimant’s argument that the defendant’s untimely answer to the claim petition required the Workers’ Compensation Judge to conclude that he was an employee. According to the court, the claimant still has the burden of proving all elements to support an award of compensation. Conclusions of law are not deemed admitted by a late answer to a claim petition, and the existence of an employer/employee relationship is a question of law based on the facts presented in each case.


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2017

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