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Undocumented workers and workers’ compensation

On behalf of Goldstein Goldstein

When it comes to New Jersey workers’ compensation, the laws that protect undocumented workers who are injured on the job can be muddled. In fact, every state has its own requirements for paying benefits to undocumented workers who are involved in a workplace injury accident.

Although some employers and officials argue that “illegal” immigrants should not be permitted to recover workers’ compensation from their workplace injury accidents, the law tends to lean toward protecting the workers.

Opponents of workers’ compensation rights say that since an undocumented worker cannot enter into an employment contract in the U.S., their rights are abandoned. However, the workers’ compensation system was ostensibly designed to place the burden of workplace injuries on industries themselves instead of on society or the individual.

Most states have determined that undocumented workers are entitled to some measure of workers’ compensation protection. For the most part, immigration status has little effect on the right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. In many instances, the rights of undocumented workers are tied to their ability to seek recompense through third-party civil lawsuits.

In New Jersey, the state judiciary has concluded that undocumented workers are permitted to file civil court actions, so they also have access to a statutorily-mandated workers’ compensation substitute.

Ultimately, victims of unsafe working conditions should not consider themselves automatically exempt from workers’ compensation benefits, no matter their immigration status. Undocumented workers deserve the same measure of protection and compensation for medical expenses for their workplace injury accidents. A professional attorney can help these victims understand more about their legal rights.

Source: Claims Journal, “Donde Estan Mis Beneficios? Workers’ Comp Claims by Undocumented Employees,” Gary Wickert, Feb. 02, 2017

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