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Workers’ Compensation For Injured Immigrant Workers

Fighting for the Rights of California Workers, Regardless of Their Immigration Status

If you are a non-citizen, whether you are working under a temporary visa, permanent residence status (green card), or as an undocumented worker, you might be concerned about your coverage in the event of a workplace injury.  Federal law imposes strict penalties on employers who hire undocumented workers, and federal policy lately seems geared towards limiting the rights of even documented immigrants.  California, thankfully, has some of the most worker-friendly injury and workers’ compensation laws in the country, regardless of immigration status.  All California workers receive some measure of workplace injury protection.  If you are a non-citizen working in California and you have been injured on the job, call the immigrant workplace injury attorneys at Invictus Law, P.C., for advice on how to proceed and representation geared toward getting the compensation you deserve.

All Workers Are Employees Under California Labor Law, Regardless of Immigration Status

California law provides that workers’ compensation is available to any employee injured in the course of performing their workplace duties.  California Labor Code § 3351 defines “employee” for the purposes of the Labor Code.  That definition expressly includes not only adult citizens but also “aliens and minors,” regardless of whether they are “lawfully or unlawfully employed.”  California law thus explicitly extends workplace protections to aliens, regardless of whether they are documented or undocumented, and regardless of whether they are employed legally or illegally.  If you are a California worker, and you get hurt on the job, you are entitled to benefits.

Using Fake Immigration Documents Does Not Disqualify You for Workers’ Comp Coverage

California courts have interpreted the term “alien” in the Labor Code to include undocumented workers.  Coverage applies even if the alien applied for a job in violation of federal law by using false documents, including by providing improperly-obtained social security numbers or a green card.  False documents used to apply for a job do not count as a fraud perpetrated to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, which would be grounds for denial.  If your employer tries to use your immigration status or use of false documents as grounds to deny your workers’ compensation claims, they are violating California law, and you have the right to fight back.

You Are Covered Even if Your Employer Lacks Insurance or Refuses to Pay

In 2015, California enacted a law explicitly providing that undocumented immigrants must be eligible for payouts from the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund or the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund if they otherwise qualify.  These are state-funded entities that pay benefits to workers who qualify for workers’ compensation protection but whose employers fail to pay them the compensation they are due after a workplace injury.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you were injured on the job in California, you are entitled to a variety of benefits.  Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be entitled to temporary or permanent disability, coverage for your medical treatments, and even job retraining if you are unable to return to the same job.  Temporary disability benefits pay approximately two-thirds of your regular wages for up to two years.  If you qualify for permanent disability, you will receive a disability rating, and your permanent disability benefits will depend on that rating.  In the case of a fatal workplace accident, surviving family members are entitled to death benefits.

There may be some slight limitations on the types of benefits available to undocumented workers, insofar as state law conflicts with controlling federal law.  Undocumented workers may not, for example, qualify for temporary disability when modified work is available, or qualify for supplemental job displacement benefits when permanent work is available.  Normally an employer can avoid paying those benefits by offering modified or alternative work, but if the employer is unable to do so because of the worker’s immigration status, they might be able to argue that they should still be exempt from paying those benefits.  The legal issues involved are complex and contested.  Speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate immigrant workers’ compensation lawyer to learn about the benefits to which you are entitled after a workplace injury, and for help collecting those benefits without running into federal law enforcement or other legal problems.

Reach out today for a free initial consultation regarding your California workplace accident

Invictus Law, P.C., helps injured workers secure full and fair compensation for damages, including medical expenses, prosthetics, physical therapy, and any other associated expenses.  We serve any workers injured in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and all Orange County communities, including Orange, Irvine and Santa Ana, regardless of immigration status.  Call us anytime at 949-287-5711 or use our online contact form to schedule a risk-free, complimentary consultation.  We’ll help you secure proper treatment from covered medical professionals, collect the appropriate documentation, and build your case to maximize your coverage.  Our firm does not require you to pay any up-front attorney’s fees and only charges a fee if we recover compensation for you.

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