Contracts which state a person is an independent contractor are the least important fact that would be considered by a reviewing court over the true status of a person providing services. There are about 20 factors that are weighed, depending on the nature of the business, the most of important of which is the degree of control the company has over the individual and how essential the service they provide is for the business.
Most personal injury attorneys will pay no heed to the contract your independent contractor signed. If the accident occurred during the course and scope of providing a service to your company, I can assure you, the company will be named as a defendant. This will become a legal issue for the court to determine, as to the legal status of the individual.
Perhaps just as important are the consequences in labor and tax law you may be facing if you incorrectly hired people as independent contractors. There are some serious penalties that can be imposed if you are not paying your people as employees and maintaining workers compensation insurance for them.
You need to have an employment law attorney who advises business review your relationship with these individuals and provide you with a knowledgeable legal opinion.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
Yes, you have potential liability for the acts of the individuals you hired as independent contractors. Do you have a written contractor with these individuals which makes them defend and indemnify you for the accident? Have you made an insurance claim regarding this accident?
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Yes, you can be liable under a number of different theories, including negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and through theories of respondeat superior or vicarious liability
This answer is intended to provide general information only. It does not create an attorney client relationship nor should it be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. Donald A. Green is only licensed to practice law in California and Oregon.