You came to the United States to make a new life for yourself and your family. You are undocumented, but you’re doing everything you can to lead the productive life you’ve always wanted. You have a good job, a home and a future for your children. Everything seems to be falling into place.
Then you get injured on the job. You can’t work and your medical bills are higher than you ever dreamed. You want to file a workers’ compensation claim because you know that you qualify, but you worry that doing so will just highlight your undocumented status. Are you going to be deported for getting hurt at work? Is that one unfortunate injury going to ruin all that you have worked for?
You likely still qualify for workers’ compensation
This is something of a tricky and contentious subject. It’s true that employers have tried to deny these claims because they say their undocumented workers shouldn’t actually count as employees. This may worry you, as it could lead to a denied claim and then deportation if the government realizes why you were denied.
That said, the reality is that undocumented workers still typically do qualify for workers’ comp. Your employer has to offer these benefits to all workers. If they chose to hire you even though you were not documented, then they should treat you the same as they do all other workers, even those with a very different status than you.
You may also worry that your employer will contact ICE and tell them that you’re filing a claim, hoping they’ll deport you and end that claim. Some employers have tried to do this, but remember that this type of retaliation is typically illegal. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but your employer is not supposed to deny your claim or report you to the government merely because you got hurt on the job.
Do you need legal assistance?
With something this complicated, and with so much at stake, it’s important to understand what legal options you have. If you need assistance, it can help to have an experienced law firm on your side.