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Can Undocumented Workers Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

January 12, 2024 | Firm News,Injury Law

In Texas, eligibility for workers’ compensation isn’t constrained by your citizenship status. This means that despite what some may believe, you’re typically covered by your workers’ comp insurance as long as you are injured while performing work-related tasks – whether you’re a United States citizen, a green card or visa holder, or an undocumented worker. This is assuming the injury doesn’t fall under any other exceptions that would disqualify you from seeking benefits.

Texas Workers’ Compensation Act

Under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, you’re entitled to receive income and medical benefits if you’ve been injured while on the job. The crucial aspect of this law is that it’s applicable regardless of your citizenship status; in other words, documented as well as undocumented workers are covered.

You Don’t Have to Share Your Citizenship Status

When an undocumented worker is injured on the job and seeks benefits, they usually don’t have to disclose their citizenship status during legal proceedings. They are generally protected by law from such disclosures since it could potentially jeopardize their safety. Additionally, a court of law has the power to issue protective orders that prevent disclosing workers’ immigration status, ensuring your right to protection and privacy.

Undocumented Workers Can Also Sue for Injuries in Court

If you are an undocumented worker and get hurt while working, you may also have the option of bringing a lawsuit against your employer when applicable.

A significant court decision in 2012 – Supply Inc. v. Cabello – acknowledged these rights for undocumented immigrants injured while at work. The ruling affirmed that regardless of immigration status, employees can file negligence claims against employers in Texas who fail to carry workers’ compensation coverage.

In the unfortunate event of being injured on the job, knowledge like this can help ensure you receive adequate medical treatment, income benefits during your recovery period, and compensation for any future wage losses as a result of your injuries, regardless of your immigration status.

Federal Law Does Not Prohibit Non-Citizens From Recovering Compensation For Work Injuries

At times, employers may try to use the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) as a defense against workers’ compensation claims brought by undocumented employees — asserting that since their hiring violates the law, they are consequently ineligible for any job-related reimbursement or benefits.

However, Texas courts have consistently rejected this rationale. Despite regulation on employment under immigration laws at the Federal level, which bars knowingly employing anyone unauthorized to work in The United States, the common law right to personal injury damages remains unaffected.

Texas courts have examined the provisions of IRCA and found nothing that would explicitly exclude undocumented workers from accessing their rights to workers’ compensation or personal injury damages.

Always Contact a Lawyer For Help With Workplace Injury

Experiencing a workplace injury can be a stressful and confusing situation, especially if you’re unsure about your rights as an undocumented worker. It’s always crucial to seek legal counsel whenever you come across such situations.

Lawyers who have expertise in workers’ compensation understand how to help protect your interests and guide you through the intricate process, ensuring that all requirements are met for filing claims. They will ensure all paperwork is filed on time and will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. If a claim has to go to court, a lawyer will represent you at trial and all related hearings as well.

For help with a workplace injury, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.