CFI Independent contractor death benefit

#1
Hi
My cousin died from a plane crash where he was working as a CFI and was with two students.
He was hired as an independent contractor and in the contract he signed it states that this job is not covered by the company's insurance or worker's compensation.
I wonder if I need to get an attorney to get at least any kind of death benefits since he is the only chid of his parents and he has a wife..

Thank you very much, please help.
 

Nihon_Ni

Well-Known Member
#3
Sorry for you loss Brian.

If your cousin truly was an independent contractor, then he was in business for himself. As such, he needed his own insurance and wouldn't have been covered by the company in question. However, a lot of places categorize employees as independent contractors so they don't have to pay half the social security tax, workers comp, etc.; but if you dig into it a little you find that many times these contractors don't meet the IRS's definition of independent contractor and are, in fact, employees of the company. Even if he signed a contract stating he was independent, if the company put certain demands on him he could be classified as an employee. As a CFI, I've worked as an independent contractor and as an employee. Either could be legit, depending on the circumstances.

Hopefully he had life insurance if he had a dependent wife. You can probably get a short consult with an attorney for a hundred dollars or less, which would be money well spent to make sure his family isn't missing something they rate.
 

Nihon_Ni

Well-Known Member
#5
Perhaps he had some life insurance through his airline job, if so that would be helpful in this situation, but I'm not sure that it changes anything else. I still suggest you go talk to a lawyer in the state where your cousin worked as a CFI. If he should have been classified as an employee, you may be able to make a claim for worker's comp death benefit. The potential payout of that is worth spending a few hundred dollars to make sure. He could have legitimately been an independent contractor, so I don't want to get your hopes up falsely, but if it were me, I'd spend a little extra effort with a professional to make sure.
 
#6
Perhaps he had some life insurance through his airline job, if so that would be helpful in this situation, but I'm not sure that it changes anything else. I still suggest you go talk to a lawyer in the state where your cousin worked as a CFI.
Would definitely agree with talking to a lawyer. I suspect it is more likely that the flight school employer and aircraft owner both have insurance policies for bodily injury and death that a claim could be brought against. But impossible to say without a lawyer looking at the facts and policies in force.

FYI, life insurance and non-owned aircraft insurance are both fairly cheap for young CFIs.
 

Noah Werka

Well-Known Member
#7
Thank you guys! My cousin's full-time job is an airline first officer, not sure if that changes anything..
Most airlines I have worked for have had a restriction on flying work out side the airline. Written permission to do flying outside the airline was required from the Chief Pilot. Depending on his airline restrictions(if any) they may or may not totally affect anything under the unfortunate circumstances. It is time to get an aviation lawyer.

Noah W
 

cadbury

Well-Known Member
#9
BrianJordan,

Please accept my deepest condolences for his family's loss.

IMO, it looks quite impossible to fight for compensation especially he signed the contract.
 
#10
BrianJordan,

Please accept my deepest condolences for his family's loss.

IMO, it looks quite impossible to fight for compensation especially he signed the contract.
This is an example of why you should seek the advice of an attorney rather than that of pilots on a message board.

For what it's worth, Workers Compensation is paid to eligible dependents, not to the estate of the decedent, and contracts signed by the deceased have no bearing whatsoever on eligibility for non-signatories. The deceased cannot sign away the rights of survivors.

What a qualified attorney can do is advise you on if the deceased was miss-categorized as an independent contractor, and if so, what benefits and compensation are due, and how they can be pursued. There are also significant tax implications.
 
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