Celebrity Circus Performers Got Injured On The Job. What Does Your Workers Comp Look Like?

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They fly through the air with the greatest of ease and then…ouch!

Even circus performers get injured on the job, which a few of the celebs on the reality show, Celebrity Circus, debuting tonight on NBC (GE), soon discovered.

Page Six (NWS) reports that three celebs were injured while learning circus stunts for the show. Janet Evans, an Olympic swimmer, fell 15 feet off a trapeze; Clueless actress Stacy Dash cracked three ribs while on “the silks,” a length of fabric 30 feet in the air; and, Brady Bunch actor Christopher Knight fractured his forearm while rollicking inside a human-sized disc called a German Wheel.

Page Six’s tipster says the show provided the “highest safety measures.” Michelle Arvin, general manager of NY Circus Arts in Manhattan, a school which teaches circus activities to average folks, and is not affiliated with the show, confirms that circus workers are highly trained performers who are seldom injured “if properly trained and properly instructed.” But, as many an injured employee—in a circus or not—has learned, training doesn’t protect from the occasional injury.

Will the actors and other celebs be eligible for worker’s comp for their injuries? It may depend on whether Celebrity Circus or NBC is officially an employer to the reality TV stars. And, you may not realize it but your company may not be your “official employer” and therefore may not be responsible for your health bills should something happen on the job.

Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance given to an injured employee by an employer to cover the cost of medical care and missed wages, and explains Kathy Lella, vice president of compliance and research for the informational web site click here. Worker’s comp is not paid out by health insurance providers but instead is paid from with the employer.

Exact workers compensation laws vary state by state, including whether or not an employee is eligible for worker’s comp if they’re injured on or off work premises, Lella says. Worker’s comp isn’t affiliated with health insurance, she says, and if an employee tries to get health insurance coverage for an injury that occurred on the job they may even be refused reimbursement.

But, just because you are being paid by an employer does not mean you are viewed as an employee in the eyes of your particular state. Independent contractors are classified differently than employees and that affects their ability to receive workers comp. Entertainers are often considered independent contractors and therefore many states exclude them from compensation, says Lella.

Exact eligibility for worker’s comp varies state by state. Workerscompensation.com lists all 50 on their web site here.

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