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Personal Injury and the Independent Contractor Defense: Common Law and Statutory Exceptions

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will review the many common law and statutory exceptions to the independent contractor defense that defendants routinely assert in wrongful death and other types of personal injury cases. The program will explore how these exceptions are evolving with changing work platforms, how personal injury attorneys can leverage these exceptions, and what counsel for the company, the contractor, and other defendants can do to shore up their position that the negligent party is truly independent.


The general rule is that a business is not liable to third parties for an independent contractor's negligence. Since many businesses use third parties to provide their services, the independent contractor defense remains one of the most prolific defenses in personal injury, wrongful death, and other tort cases.

The numerous exceptions to the general rule that arise both in common law and by statute create traps for defendants and opportunities for plaintiffs. First and foremost, the agreement between the company and the contractor may be poorly drafted, out of date, or nonexistent, offering little protection. Sometimes, the independent contractor status may have been contrived to avoid responsibility using a labyrinth of contractor business relationships and shell companies. If the defendant is perceived as attempting to avoid responsibility, it may not fare well.

Just because one exception does not cause the defense to fall, the defendants cannot let their guard down, and plaintiffs should not surrender. Often various common law exceptions, statutes, regulations, and other ordinances can be woven together to pierce the defense or shore it up in many different types of personal injury matters.

Listen as this experienced panel guides counsel through the independent contractor defense and its many exceptions in the context of personal injury claims.



  1. Overview of the general rule
  2. Exceptions to the general rule
  3. Strategies for plaintiffs
  4. Strategies for defendants


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the most important provisions in an independent contractor agreement that make or break the defense?
  • What is the test for an independent contractor in the context of personal injuries?
  • Does it matter if a defendant is or is not an independent contractor for purposes of labor laws?
  • Are there certain harms for which the defense cannot be asserted?
  • How has the defense been altered by the "gig" economy?


Centeno, D. Matthew
D. Matthew Centeno

Burr & Forman

Mr. Centeno practices in Burr & Forman's Tort Trial, Insurance and Product Section (TIPS): Risk Mitigation and...  |  Read More

Conner, David
David Michael Conner

Founder and Managing Partner
Conner Law Group

Mr. Conner specializes in commercial, business and construction litigation and related business organization and...  |  Read More

Tate, Mark
Mark A. Tate

Trial Attorney
Tate Law Group

Mr. Tate has over 21 years of experience in the field of civil litigation. He began his career in law as a corporate...  |  Read More

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