Undocumented workers are an integral part of the American economy. Without them, several different industries as we know them would essentially collapse. Every day, approximately 8 million of these hardworking laborers make significant contributions in agriculture, construction, food service, child care, cleaning services, and more. Unfortunately, they aren’t always treated with the respect they deserve.
Many employers of undocumented workers exploit them in a variety of ways. This is especially prevalent when undocumented workers get injured, as employers frequently attempt to avoid paying benefits like Workers’ Comp. Undocumented workers often feel helpless in this situation, as they may be unaware of their rights or unable to speak English. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to know that the law is on your side.
At Lipsig Queens, we’re prepared to help injured workers fight for benefits and explore other options for compensation, such as a personal injury lawsuit.
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- Can undocumented workers get Workers’ Compensation?
- Can undocumented workers sue for work injuries?
- How can independent contractors be compensated for work injuries?
- Can I lose my job for reporting a work injury?
- What if my employer threatens to deport me for reporting my injury?
- What if I’m paid under the table, in cash?
- What if my employer refuses to help with my medical bills?
- How do I know if my injury is work-related?
- What if my employer claims the injury didn’t happen at work?
- What if my employer claims I never worked for them?
- Should I consider talking to a lawyer?
- What if I can’t afford a lawyer?
Can Undocumented Workers Get Workers’ Compensation?
This varies from state to state, but in the state of New York, the answer is yes. Although the Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and also prohibits undocumented immigrants from submitting false information to an employer, New York legislators have decided that this act does not override a workers’ right to compensation after a work-related injury.
However, not all employers fulfill their obligation to provide undocumented workers with coverage. Many employers refuse to pay benefits, deny the injury is work-related, or deny that an injured worker was every employed by them (this is especially common if the worker has been paid “under the table”). Some employers even sink low enough to threaten undocumented workers with a call to immigration if they report their injury.
Can Undocumented Workers Sue For Work Injuries?
In certain situations, yes. In the vast majority of work injury cases, employers are protected from lawsuits. But if your employer has failed to provide you with your benefits or has refused to pay them, you may have a case for a lawsuit.
Personal injury lawsuits are fairly common in the construction industry. This is because construction job sites are made up of workers from different employers, including many independent contractors and day laborers who have no official boss or employer. In these situations, you may sue third parties (anyone other than a co-worker or your employer) whose negligence caused your injury. Negligence is defined as any unreasonably unsafe act which could cause harm to others. For example, if you were working as a construction laborer and another worker dropped a tool on your head, you could have a case for a lawsuit.
Work injury cases for undocumented workers are complex, and it’s usually wise to speak with a knowledgeable work injury lawyer who has experience in these matters. He or she can help you determine which route to compensation is best for you and your situation.
How Can Independent Contractors Be Compensated For Work Injuries?
Since independent contractors technically have no employer, it’s usually necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation. In order to do this, you must prove that someone else’s negligence directly caused your injury. For instance, if you were doing gardening work and slipped and fell on an uncleared snow-covered sidewalk, you could potentially sue the homeowner who failed to shovel the snow and clear a path.
Some employers also misclassify employees as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid paying out benefits and payroll taxes. This is illegal and a way for employers to exploit undocumented workers. If you were working for one employer on a consistent basis and were still classified as an independent contractor, you could potentially sue your employer for failing to provide you with the benefits you deserve.
Can I Lose My Job For Reporting A Work Injury?
This is a common concern for many injured undocumented workers. But it’s illegal to fire someone for reporting a work injury. If you’ve recently reported an injury and were fired shortly after, you should consider speaking with an experienced workers’ rights attorney.
What If My Employer Threatens To Deport Me For Reporting My Injury?
It is illegal for your employer to threaten you for any reason. No human being deserves to be threatened just because they got injured at work and are seeking the benefits they need for medical care and lost wages – regardless of their citizenship status. If you find yourself in this situation, consider meeting with one of our lawyers to discuss your rights as a worker.
What If I’m Paid Under The Table In Cash?
It doesn’t matter if you are paid under the table in cash instead of getting an official paycheck. If you’re being paid by the same employer for regular work, you are their employee and you are entitled to workers’ compensation for all work-related injuries and illnesses.
What If My Employer Refuses To Help With My Medical Bills?
This is illegal, as every employer is required by law to provide every worker with workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of their citizenship status. If you’re struggling to receive the financial help you need while you’re out of work with an injury, our dedicated injury lawyers are here to help.
How Do I Know If My Injury Is Work-Related?
Some work injuries are more obvious than others. If you broke your wrist after slipping and falling on a wet kitchen floor while working as a dishwasher, then that injury is clearly work-related. But injuries can also build up slowly over time due to completing the same tasks over and over, week in and week out. If you’re experiencing any chronic pain which you believe could be work-related, you should consider meeting with a doctor who can evaluate your injuries and determine if they’re work-related.
What If My Employer Claims The Injury Didn’t Happen At Work?
Many employers may attempt to avoid paying out benefits by claiming an injury occurred outside of work. But if your injury truly is work-related, then the facts are on your side. An experienced lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need for a successful claim, including medical reports, statements from witnesses, and anything else related to your accident.
What If My Employer Claims I Never Worked For Them?
Since undocumented workers are “off the books”, many employers may not keep records of your employment and attempt to deny that you ever worked for them. This can easily be disproved with evidence such as a work uniform or testimony from co-workers. But in order to hold this type of employer accountable, it’s often necessary to take legal action.
Should I Consider Talking To A Lawyer?
If you’re an undocumented worker in Queens (or anywhere else in New York) who’s been hurt on the job and you’re struggling to get your benefits, then you should absolutely speak with a lawyer. It’s normal to be afraid of retaliations such as being fired or facing deportation. But it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you in any way.
You work hard every day to support your family, and your employer profits off of your labor. It’s reprehensible when an employer attempts to exploit a hard-working employee by denying benefits. Undocumented workers are just as important as any other worker in America, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect. At Lipsig Queens, our experienced attorneys are proud to represent injured undocumented workers and to fight back against the employers who try to exploit them.
A lawyer can also help you determine if your injury qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit, which provides far higher payouts than Workers’ Compensation benefits alone.
What If I Can’t Afford A Lawyer?
At Lipsig Queens, we offer free consultations and only require payment if we successfully help you receive compensation. This means that you pay us nothing until we win, and that payment comes as a small percentage of your settlement, verdict, or benefits payments. This fee is a small price to pay, as it’s often necessary to hire a lawyer in order to receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.