“Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim if I’m Undocumented?”

October 5, 2020 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
“Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim if I’m Undocumented?”

If you’re an undocumented immigrant working in the United States, getting injured on the job can be worrisome. Many undocumented immigrants ask our North Carolina workers' comp lawyers, “Can I file a workers’ compensation claim if I’m undocumented?”

In this blog post, we’ll look at what the law says about workers’ compensation claims for undocumented workers. We’ll also share some tips you can use if you or another undocumented workers are injured on the job and need help claiming workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Comp for Undocumented Immigrants: What Does the Law Say?

Federal law requires that all employers verify that all employees are legally present in the United States. For the most part, however, injured workers file state workers’ compensation claims, which are based solely on state law. Therefore, each state differs on how much protection undocumented workers have. Under North Carolina Law, NC Gen Stat 97-2-2 provides protections for both “lawfully and unlawfully employed.”

Can I get workers comp benefits if I'm undocumented_ - Riddle & Brantley

Additionally, the North Carolina statute specifically states that both undocumented immigrants and minors qualify for workers’ compensation. There is also North Carolina case law that further protects non-resident workers. For instance, in 1999, the N.C. Court of Appeals held that “illegal aliens” could claim workers’ compensation benefits.

In other words, regardless of a worker’s immigration status, he or she IS entitled to workers’ compensation after sustaining an injury on the job.

Have you or a loved one who is undocumented suffered an injury on the job? Our experienced North Carolina workers’ comp attorneys are ready to help. For a FREE consultation with an experienced work injury lawyer handling claims on behalf of undocumented immigrants, please call 1-800-525-7111.

There is never any obligation and you won’t pay a dime in attorney fees unless we win your case and you receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free consultation regarding potential workers’ comp benefits.

Workers’ Comp Challenges Facing Undocumented Workers

Unfortunately, some employers and defense attorneys argue that undocumented workers are not entitled to compensation because federal law prohibits hiring employees not legally allowed to work in the U.S. Essentially, this argument focuses on the notion that because undocumented residents are not allowed to work in the U.S., they should not be entitled to benefits derived from that job.

However, North Carolina case law makes it clear that recovery of workers’ compensation benefits is not dependent on federal law. In 2002, the N.C. Court ruled that federal immigration law does NOT prohibit unlawful workers from obtaining compensation from work related injuries.

Therefore, if an undocumented immigrant files a workers’ compensation claim under North Carolina state law, his or her benefits can’t be barred based on immigration status.

Workplace Retaliation & Intimidation

Unfortunately, in some cases, employers might retaliate if an injured employee attempts to file a workers’ compensation claim. Retaliation may include threatening to expose an undocumented worker to immigration officials. According to the National Employment Law Project, ICE has a policy against interfering with labor disputes.

Workers Compensation for Undocumented Immigrants - Riddle & Brantley

ICE has Memorandum of Understanding with the federal labor agencies in the United States. Generally, ICE’s policy under this provision is to not intervene with work-related disputes such as those involving workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, however, recent events demonstrate that ICE does not always follow protocol, which is why it is important to consult an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Employers may attempt to intimidate an injured undocumented employee into not filing a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, employers may threaten exposing illegal workers to immigration officials.

At Riddle and Brantley our work injury attorneys recognize the valid concerns that many undocumented immigrants face when deciding whether to file a workers’ compensation claim. Our firm has experience working with noncitizens and we understand how daunting the threat of deportation can be.

However, we have vast experience working with undocumented clients and we know how to handle the workers’ compensation process. In one recent case, attorneys Gene Riddle and Chris Brantley secured $2.475 million in total compensation for an undocumented worker who was seriously injured in a fall from a platform while on the job (see disclaimer below). Attorney Alex Riddle also has extensive experience working in an immigration law clinic.

"We are committed to justice for all North Carolina workers, and that means undocumented immigrants, too."

-Alex Riddle, attorney, Riddle & Brantley

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced work injury lawyer handling workers’ comp claims for undocumented immigrants, please call 1-800-525-7111.

There are no upfront costs and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover workers’ compensation benefits for you.

Justice Counts for ALL North Carolina workers, including those who are undocumented. Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let our attorneys help you and your loved ones however we can.

What is Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina?

North Carolina law requires all employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you or an undocumented family member were injured on the job, you could be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.

Time is of the essence for worker’s compensation claims. Under North Carolina law, employees have 30 days after the injury to report the incident to their employer. From the initial date of the accident, employees then have two years to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Workers Comp Lawyers for Undocumented Immigrants - Riddle & Brantley in North Carolina

If you are afraid that your employer will use your immigration status against you, contact our firm today at 1-800-525-7111.

We can help you formally notify your employer and protect your legal rights. After your accident, it is important to seek medical care. We can help refer you to a trusted medical provider. Generally, hospitals and other medical care facilities are considered “sensitive locations,” which means that immigration authorities generally cannot raid these facilities.

At Riddle and Brantley, we believe that ALL North Carolina workers, regardless of legal status, deserve justice and we would love to fight for your right to compensation if we can.

"They turned a heartbreaking situation completely around."

-Tonya Taylor, Riddle & Brantley client

Our team of dedicated workers’ comp attorneys are ready to help you or an undocumented loved one obtain the workers’ compensation you deserve. We have many Spanish-speaking employees on staff, as well, and would love to help however we can.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer serving undocumented workers in North Carolina.

We believe Justice Counts for all North Carolina workers and we’re ready to help. We’ll review your case, advise you on your legal options, and if you decide to hire us, we’ll fight tirelessly for your right to compensation.

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.