A recent story on NPR.com estimated that there are about 8 million undocumented workers, who are making a significant contribution to our economy, working in the United States with no papers or false papers. These undocumented workers get injured on the job, and now nearly all 50 states have given them the right to receive workers’ compensation.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in 2002 that all workers are entitled to compensation after an injury, and that undocumented workers are also eligible (Reinforced Earth Co. v. WCAB 810 A. 2d 99. Pa. (2002).)
Even if you are entitled, you may face other challenges if you make a claim
In some states, lawmakers have also made it a crime to file a workers’ compensation claim using false documents. So, understanding that it is legal to apply for workers’ compensation when they have been injured in a workplace accident, undocumented workers apply for the program and then their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer turns them over to the state for using false documents.
A Florida man who injured his back as he was mowing a median strip on a highway. He applied for workers’ compensation, and when the doctor recommended an expensive surgical procedure to treat his back, his employer’s insurance company rejected his past and future medical care. The man then hired an attorney to pursue the workers’ compensation benefits to which he was entitled under the law, and then he was later arrested and charged with using a false Social Security number to get a job and to file for workers’ compensation. Apparently, his employer’s insurance company had hired a private investigator, who tipped off the stat insurance fraud unit
The man spent half a year in terrible pain in immigration detention before being deported back to Honduras, according to the NPR story.
A story on WBUR.com, Why Nearly Half My Patients Who Get Hurt On The Job Don’t Report It, details similar challenges to workers in Massachusetts who are afraid to report workplace injuries because they fear deportation. The writer urges the following, “Health care providers and concerned residents must urge the U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of Immigration Enforcement to guarantee that the enforcement of immigration law does not undermine safety in our workplaces or our communities.”
Undocumented immigrants who have suffered a workplace injury might consider consulting with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney before they file a workers’ compensation claim.
At Larry Pitt & Associates, our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys know that things are tough for undocumented workers – especially when they are hurt on the job. To learn more about how the laws might affect you, please call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.