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Are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation as an Immigrant?

Posted On:
May 15, 2018
Posted By:
Justin Burton

Are You Entitled to Workers’ Compensation as an Immigrant?

Workers’ compensation, in most states, is not limited to just U.S. citizens, which is an important consideration for U.S. employers to make. It is also something for migrant workers to think about, as just because he or she is not legally authorized to work in the U.S. does not mean that he or she is not entitled to benefits for injuries accrued while rendering services.

If you are in the U.S. on immigrant status, whether legally or illegally, and if you are hurt on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Reach out to the Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, to learn more about your rights and how you can pursue benefits for your injuries without risking your place in the United States.

Employers Cannot Knowingly Hire an Illegal Immigrant

First and foremost, it is important to note that, in accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, or IRCA, it is illegal for employers to knowingly hire someone who is not allowed to legally work in the U.S. Many employers intentionally violate this law to obtain cheap labor and avoid taxes, while many more unintentionally violate the law when hiring employees whose I-9s seem legitimate. In either case, the employer may be held liable for either failing to adhere to the law and/or failing to validate an employee’s citizenship status. Once a person’s immigration status is discovered, which it typically is once the workers’ compensation claims process is started, he or she is fired. However, termination of employment does not necessarily lead to termination of benefits.

Alien Workers Considered the Same as Fully Documented Workers

In several states, Chicago included, the courts have ruled that workers’ compensation cannot be denied solely because a person is an undocumented worker. This precedent was set in Zendejas v. J & J Bros. Constr., 05 IL.W.C. 03276, 09 I.W.C.C. 06500 (June 26, 2009). In order to establish this, the court referred to Section 1(b)2 of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which defines an employee as a person “in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written,… including aliens….”

Thanks to a few other precedent-setting cases, injured immigrants are entitled to temporary total disability, medical, and permanency benefits. They are not, however, entitled to death benefits for family members.

What to Do if You Are Injured on the Job

If you are an immigrant and an employee of the U.S., and if you were injured on the job, you are not without options. A job injury may leave you disabled, unable to work for long periods of time, and with extensive medical needs. Each of these hardships can result in financial turmoil. Workers’ compensation can help you pay for your medical expenses as well as compensate you for your time off of work.

Talk to the Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC, to discuss your options at compensation. Your workers’ compensation claim is a bit more complex than the average case, as you risk deportation and other consequences for filing. However, with the right attorney on your side, you can earn continued residency in the U.S. and compensation for your injuries. Call our office to discuss your case today.

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