According to recent estimates, there are more than 7.6 million undocumented workers in the United States, making up about 4.6 percent of the civilian workforce. At the same time, undocumented people comprise just 3.2 percent of the U.S. population. Thus, as a group, undocumented immigrants are hardworking individuals looking to make a better life for themselves and their families.
As an undocumented worker, you may have understandable hesitation to file a workers’ compensation claim after a workplace accident. At the same time, undocumented workers fill some of the most dangerous occupations. As a result, undocumented and unauthorized workers suffer a high rate of job-related injuries. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we understand your concerns about pursuing workers’ compensation benefits and are here to help in any way we can. We proudly represent undocumented and unauthorized workers, helping them obtain the much-needed benefits they are legally entitled to.Are Undocumented Workers Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Yes, under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, undocumented workers are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. The fact that a worker does not have the legal authority to work in the country does not prohibit them from pursuing workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an on-the-job accident or being diagnosed with an occupational illness.
To successfully bring a workers’ compensation claim, you must establish that your injuries were related to your job. Importantly, the North Carolina workers’ compensation system covers not only on-the-job accidents but also occupational diseases that often develop slowly over time. You do not need to prove that anyone else caused your injuries, and, in most cases, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if your injuries were the result of a mistake you made while at work.What Undocumented Workers Need to Know About Applying for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in North Carolina
There are a few things that undocumented workers should know when pursuing workers’ compensation benefits. First, your employer’s insurance company cannot ask about your immigration status when you file a workers’ compensation claim. And, in the event the insurance company somehow learns of your undocumented status, it cannot deny your claim on that basis.
Second, if your employer learns that you lack the legal authority to work in the United States, they may terminate your employment. However, if your injury leaves you unable to work, filing for workers’ compensation benefits may be worth the risk of losing your job because, even if your employer terminates your employment, you will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company must also cover the cost of all medical treatment reasonably necessary to treat your work-related injury.
Third, if your doctor says your condition is such that you can return to work, the insurance company may argue that you are no longer eligible for income-replacement benefits because of your immigration status. However, the insurance company must meet its burden of proof before it can terminate your benefits. It is important to carefully review the legal pleadings and all of the evidence the insurance company is relying upon when requesting to terminate your workers’ compensation benefits. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we can help you respond to any claims by the insurance company that you should stop receiving ongoing workers’ compensation benefits.Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you lack the documentation needed to legally work in the United States and were injured in a workplace accident, do not let your immigration status deter you from pursuing the benefits you are legally entitled to. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we proudly represent immigrants—both documented and undocumented—in all types of workers’ compensation claims and appeals. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation* with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747.