Can An Undocumented Immigrant Receive Workers’ Compensation Payments?
Accidents and serious injuries in the workplace happen every day here in Texas. Construction, manufacturing, and agriculture are some of the higher-risk fields, but in any line of work, people can be negligent and cause serious injuries.
When a job-related accident injures an employee who is a U.S. citizen or a legally-documented immigrant, there is no question that the employee has a right to compensation through either a workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim. But what about undocumented immigrants? Can a McAllen work injury lawyer help?
CAN UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS APPLY FOR WORKERS’ COMP?
Unlike most states, Texas does not legally compel employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, but most employers do.
When someone works for an employer who carries workers’ compensation coverage, that person’s immigration status does not prevent that person from receiving workers’ compensation benefits after being injured on the job.
In most states, the law requires employers to carry workers’ comp insurance, but only workers who are classified as “employees” (and not as independent contractors) are covered.
In Texas, if an employer carries workers’ comp insurance, that employer must provide coverage for any employees who may be undocumented.
WHAT IF YOUR EMPLOYER DOESN’T PROVIDE WORKERS’ COMP COVERAGE?
If your Texas employer does not provide workers’ compensation coverage, and if you are injured on the job, your only remaining option for compensation is to file a personal injury claim. In south Texas, you will need the help of an experienced McAllen personal injury attorney.
If you are undocumented, and if you are injured on the job, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages – through workers’ compensation, if it covers you – or by filing a personal injury claim (if there is no workers’ comp coverage).
Your immigration status does not prohibit you from seeking compensation. You will not have to produce a visa or an employment authorization document, and your immigration status cannot be used against you by an employer, an insurance company, a lawyer, or a civil trial jury.
WHAT FACTS ARE CONSIDERED IRRELEVANT IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
If you have to take an injury claim to court, the other side cannot bring up your immigration status. It is not relevant. The only matters that are considered in a Texas personal injury trial are whether or not you were injured by negligence and how much compensation you should receive.
The right to recover compensation when you are injured by another person’s negligence is a fundamental principle in Texas law, and it is a right that everyone has in Texas without regard to anyone’s immigration status or citizenship status.
In the past, employers in these kinds of cases have tried to avoid paying compensation to injured employees who were undocumented.
WHAT DOES FEDERAL LAW SAY REGARDING UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS?
For example, employers argued that because it is illegal to hire undocumented workers – under the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 – that undocumented workers have no authorization to work in the U.S. and – therefore – have no right to job-related compensation.
State courts in Texas have consistently rejected this line of argument and have determined that nothing in federal law impairs a personal injury victim’s right to be compensated.
Workers’ comp and personal injury claims are already exceedingly complex, and nothing is gained by focusing on additional irrelevant matters like someone’s immigration status.
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM IN TX HELP YOU?
If you are injured at your place of work anywhere in the state of Texas, after you have been treated by a healthcare provider, discuss your legal rights and options immediately with a skilled Texas accident attorney.
After reviewing your circumstances, your attorney can determine if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits or if you qualify to file a personal injury claim arising from your workplace accident and injury.
WHAT DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROVIDE TO INJURED WORKERS?
In Texas, temporary workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits are paid to workers who suffer a job-related illness or injury that will keep them away from work for more than seven days. Workers’ comp also pays for an injured worker’s medical expenses.
In Texas, workers’ compensation pays employees who earn more than $10 an hour 70 percent of their wages. Employees who make less than $10 an hour are paid 75 percent of their wages.
These temporary wage replacement benefits are paid for 105 weeks or until the employee returns to full-time work. If you’re injured at your job or in the “course and scope” of your employment, or if you suffer a job-related illness, submit a workers’ comp claim to your employer at once.
HOW SOON WILL YOU NEED TO FILE A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
Do not procrastinate about filing a workers’ compensation claim. Do the paperwork immediately after you’ve been seen by a medical professional. If you delay filing a claim, your worker’s compensation benefits could be held up, or your claim might even be rejected.
Next, speak to an experienced McAllen personal injury attorney who can determine if you have other options for compensation. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, speak to an attorney as soon as you’ve received medical treatment.
WHAT FACTORS MAY BE CONSIDERED IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
If you file a personal injury claim – against an employer who does not carry workers’ compensation coverage or against a third party – your immigration status will not be a consideration, but a number of other factors may be taken into account, including:
your age and health prior to the accident, and particularly any pre-existing conditions
your family, childcare, and employment obligations
your education, your job experience, and your capacity to learn new job skills
A Texas personal injury lawyer will review the details of your case – at no cost and with no obligation – and recommend the most constructive way for you to move forward.
If your attorney advises you to file a third-party personal injury claim, let that attorney fight for justice on your behalf. You will pay no attorney’s fee until you receive your compensation.
If you’re undocumented, and you are injured on the job, don’t be intimidated. Stand up for your rights – the law is on your side. Consider your work, your health, your family, and your future. If you are injured on the job, it is imperative to obtain the legal help that you need immediately.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.