Petrillo & Goldberg Law Blog

workers' compensation lawyer

Employees v. independent contractors and their rights to workers’ compensation

Climbing trees to clear utility lines or trim dead limbs can be dangerous. A man fell 30 feet out of a tree while trimming trees in Mahwah, New Jersey. To obtain compensation in New Jersey, employees need to be categorized as either an employee or an independent contractor.

The Mahwah tree cutter worked for a subcontractor for Orange and Rockland Utilities. If the injured worker was an employee of the subcontractor, he may recover workers’ compensation under New Jersey law. If the tree cutter was an independent contractor, he is not covered by workers’ compensation.

New Jersey courts use one of two tests to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor:

  • The control test focuses on whether the worker controlled how the job was performed. If the worker has control over the method of performing the work, then they are an independent contractor. The worker is an employee if the employer has the right to control the work. For example, the employer controls the hours of work and provides the equipment.
  • The relative nature of the work test looks at whether the work performed is an integral part of the regular business of the employer and whether the worker showed economic dependence upon the employer. If so, the worker is an employee.

Did you suffer an injury as a result of a fall out of a tree or off of a roof or other structure while performing your job? You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. Talk to an experienced workplace injury lawyer at Petrillo and Goldberg at 856.249.9295 or visit