Suffering a serious on-the-job injury can be a devastating blow for construction workers, often leaving them facing expensive medical treatment and no paycheck to pay for it.
However, while most construction workers simply seek workers' comp or file a legal action to help cover their bills, many undocumented workers think they have no options. In some cases, they fear they will be deported if they report their injuries, or, at the very least, they believe they have no legal rights given their immigration status.
Well, undocumented workers need to know that they still have rights under New York law if they suffer serious injuries while working construction. In fact, if you are an undocumented worker, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, regardless of your immigration status.
But I heard injured undocumented workers are deported is some states?
Even though most states, including New York, allow undocumented workers to pursue legal options following work-related injuries, many workers still worry they may face an increased risk of deportation if they seek compensation.
For instance, lawmakers in Florida are currently examining whether to change a law that some employers and insurance companies have been using to have undocumented workers arrested and possibly deported following on-the-job injuries, all in the hopes of avoiding having to pay workers' comp benefits.
According to a recent NPR and ProPublica investigation, these companies are using a law that makes it a felony to use false identification when obtaining jobs or workers' comp benefits. Since most undocumented workers must use false IDs and/or Social Security information when finding employment, some are now being charged with fraud following workplace injuries, even when they don't file a claim for workers' compensation. Immigrant advocates believe employers and insurance companies are using this loophole to turn in undocumented workers so they can avoid having to pay benefits otherwise required under the law.
However, it is important to point out that New York is not Florida. We have different laws, plain and simple.
Will I be deported?
The sad reality is that undocumented workers always face the possibility of deportation, regardless of whether they have been injured or not. However, this should not deter an injured worker from seeking damages if they suffer a serious on-the-job injury -- after all, the law entitles them to seek this compensation.
With that being said, you should always speak with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney if you have any questions. At Edelman & Edelman, P.C., we can help, no matter your immigration status. Over the years, we have obtained favorable results for workers from several countries, including Mexico, Poland and Venezuela. We can even help coordinate a consultation with an immigration lawyer should you have any concerns about deportation.