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Wrestling With Your Independent Contractor Status


If you are trying to determine your rights as an independent contractor, it may feel like you are involved in a strenuous wrestling match.


Let Us Explain

Professional wrestlers are involved in a demanding profession that combines the rigors of high-impact athletics with a schedule that has them on the road 250 days per year. Many wrestlers of the past turned to steroids, pain killers and alcohol to keep up with the schedule and manage the pain, arguably shortening their lifespan in the process.

Sadly, the world of wrestling has lost another star, as Joanie Laurer - known as "Chyna" in the world of wrestling - was found dead in her home on April 21. She was a pioneer for women in the pro wrestling industry, performing alongside men in a way that has not been seen since. Sadly, she struggled with substance abuse and her death is being investigated as a possible overdose.

Her death follows the news on April 12 that Jonathan Rechner - better known to professional wrestling fans as "Balls Mahoney" - passed away at the age of 44. He has ties to the area, as he was born in New Jersey and made his professional name wrestling throughout the northeast with ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) before plying his trade with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

His is the latest in a troubling trend of active and former professional wrestlers dying far too young. The list includes names such as The Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith, Curt Hennig and, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, and that is just scratching the surface.


Professional Wrestlers Are Controversially Classified As Independent Contractors

WWE has long been criticized for classifying wrestlers, valets and other performing talent as independent contractors. This criticism stems from the fact that WWE exerts a great deal of control over the talent, such as implementing dress codes, limiting employment opportunities outside of WWE, maintaining control over creative decisions and even choosing the wrestler's gimmick.

The independent contractor status of wrestlers is a boon for WWE, as wrestlers are not eligible for workers' compensation and must purchase their own health insurance and pay for their own travel as they crisscross North America (WWE covers expenses associated with overseas tours).

How Does Your Employment Status Affect Your Ability To Recover After A Work Injury?

While there can be advantages to being an independent contractor in the right situation, many workers are classified as such for the benefit of their employers. Examples of occupations where it is typical to find independent contractors include:

  • Barber or beautician
  • Contract writer
  • Courier
  • General contractor
  • Contract graphic designer
  • Gardener, lawn care worker or landscaper
  • Personal trainer
  • Taxi driver

If you are an independent contractor, you find yourself in the same boat as a professional wrestler. While you may work outdoors or in a cubicle rather than a wrestling ring, you, like the pro wrestler, would be ineligible for workers' compensation benefits after a work-related injury and responsible for covering the costs of your injury and rehab.

This can put you in a precarious positon if an accident ever happens that leaves you injured and needing extensive medical treatment.

If you are injured due to the negligence of a third party (not your employer), however, you have a nonworkers' compensation option for recovering the funds you need to protect your quality of life. A personal injury lawsuit can be brought against the negligent party, seeking medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and other damages.

Getting In Touch With A Lawyer Is The Best Way To Win Your Match With An Injury

Whether you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident while making a delivery, injured by a defective piece of lawn equipment, or hurt on a construction site, your best move is to speak to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

At Block O'Toole & Murphy, we can explain your rights and help you get up off the mat before the insurance companies get the three-count.