In most states, undocumented immigrants can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain injuries in the scope and course of their employment. Workers’ compensation laws are largely governed by states, whereas immigration laws are regulated at the federal level. Many states have laws that allow all workers who have suffered work-related injuries covered by workers’ compensation rules to receive the benefits, regardless of immigration status.
Workers can be undocumented for various reasons. These include entering the United States without valid documents or overstaying their valid visa, issues that a visa attorney can help them solve. Nearly all states have workers’ compensation statutes that either implicitly or explicitly include undocumented immigrants. In more than 30 states where the issue of undocumented workers has reached the courts or board, immigration status has been held as not affecting workers’ compensation eligibility.
Wyoming is the only state that explicitly excludes undocumented workers from receiving the benefits. Nevertheless, the state does not restrict the workers from accessing the courts, for example, to file personal injury lawsuits with negligence lawyers.
A common reason for most states allowing undocumented immigrants to collect workers’ compensation benefits is to avoid creating an incentive for employers to exploit the workers. If the immigrants are not allowed to collect benefits, employers may increasingly hire undocumented workers because they will not have to part with workers’ compensation premiums. They may also cut corners on safety measures, including OSHA regulations.
Employers have commonly tried to use the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) as a basis for denying the claims of undocumented immigrants for workers’ compensation benefits. IRCA is a federal law that outlaws employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. The employers argue that the workers should be ineligible for the benefits because they are not authorized to work in the country.
Many states have found IRCA incapable of protecting employers from liability for the accidents and injuries covered under workers’ compensation laws. The courts have ruled that IRCA does not preempt the state’s laws that cover undocumented workers.
Limitations on Available Benefits
Workers’ compensation, just like rideshare accidents, can be complicated for undocumented immigrants. In the case of rideshare accidents, citizens tend to have an easier time pursuing damages than foreign nationals. The foreign nationals may require the assistance of rideshare lawyers to receive compensation commensurate with their losses.
Similarly, undocumented immigrants may need the help of workers’ compensation lawyers to learn the benefits they can collect after workplace accidents without running into legal problems. Slight limitations may be placed on the benefits available to undocumented immigrants. For instance, a worker may be denied benefits like disability and vocational rehabilitation benefits because of his or her immigration status.
Undocumented workers who gained employment using fraudulent documents and means may be denied workers’ compensation benefits. However, there have been cases where undocumented workers have been awarded benefits despite misrepresenting their status to secure employment.
Nevertheless, documented or not, a worker injured at work can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The process can be more intimidating for undocumented workers. A work accident attorney can help an employee if he or she is unsure of his or her eligibility or wants to avoid legal problems while filing a workers’ compensation claim.