Workers compensation is intended to provide fair compensation to an employee or their family in the event of injury or death from an occupational injury. Workers compensation also protects the employer from any negligence claims that an injured employee may attempt to bring by having this set process in place.
However, it is important for illegal alien employees to keep in mind that during the process of submitting for workers’ compensation, they can very easily be discovered to be an illegal resident. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), it is illegal for an employer to knowingly hire an illegal resident.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?
Generally, there are three eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive workers compensation:
- The employer must carry or be legally required to carry workers compensation insurance;
- The individual must be an employee of the company; and
- The injury or illness must be work-related.
It doesn’t matter if the employee is a part-time, full-time, or a seasonal employee. So long as you were injured while on the job, then you have the basic requirement for qualify for workers’ compensation.
How Do Courts View Illegal Aliens in Terms of Workers' Compensation?
However, due to the above list, courts differ in their opinion of whether illegal aliens are entitled to workers compensation. The main point of disagreement is an illegal alien employee is considered an actual employee. Because of this, there are different findings that can be broken down into the following:
- Full Benefits: Courts who allow full benefits say that being an illegal alien has nothing to do with them having represented themselves as a legal employee and having been injured on the job. Therefore, anyone injured—illegal or not—should receive compensation.
- No Benefits: There are also courts that have denied benefits to illegal aliens, citing they do not meet the definition of the term “employee.” This is changing, and several states have statutes that specifically include undocumented immigrants as eligible individuals to receive workers compensation.
- Some Benefits: Other courts have found that illegal aliens are entitled to some benefits, usually rehabilitations and wage disability benefits.
Should I Contact an Employment Lawyer?
If you are unsure of whether you are eligible for workers compensation, contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations of filing a claim for benefits, so the sooner you act, the higher likelihood of having a successful claim. Your attorney will advise you on your rights, and protect your interests.