Are Undocumented Workers Entitled To Workers Compensation In Florida?
This is a complicated issue, but the answer is ‘yes’. Some states, like New York, actually prevent undocumented workers from ever filing workers’ compensation claims against their employer. Florida, however, permits these claims from moving forward. While many may be inclined to believe this is a travesty of justice, the reasons for permitting these suits to move forward are very clear. Often, the employers themselves know that the workers are undocumented and hire them specifically because they are easier to exploit. It would be a little like having the leverage of blackmail over another person’s head. You can make them do whatever your want. In some cases, U.S. corporations actually recruited in Mexico to draw workers here illegally to work factory farms, jobs that are difficult to get anyone to take.
However, the employer can only be held liable if they “knowingly” hired an undocumented alien or a minor.
How does this play out under Florida law?
While you may be inclined to believe that these laws are overly permissive to undocumented aliens, the truth is that undocumented aliens are in a Catch-22 when they file these claims. Often, they are trying to hide the fact that they are illegal aliens, so they end up submitting fake social security numbers on their documentation. This ensures that their employer can claim that they had no idea the worker was undocumented which makes it impossible for them to successfully file their claim.
On the other hand, they can admit that they were undocumented, recover lost wages and medical expenses from their employer, and end up getting deported. Worse still, if the undocumented worker doesn’t report their earnings, they would not be entitled, under Florida law, to recover lost wages because only taxable income can be compensated.
This means that, logistically, undocumented aliens can file workers’ compensation claims, but often will not because of the dangers inherent in filing those claims. Further, there are certain barriers that can be difficult to overcome as an illegal alien attempting to prove your claim.
What did your employer know?
A workers’ compensation attorney can argue that your employer either knew or should have known that his workforce was composed of undocumented aliens. Many employers turn a blind eye to the obvious. When their employees are injured on the job, the definition of an employee under the law ensures that they are covered by the workers’ compensation statute.
One last point. While providing an employer with a false social security number would not necessarily bar you from recovery, you cannot under any circumstances lie about your social security number to the insurance company. That is tantamount to insurance fraud and can result in other severe consequences. Ultimately, the decision to file a claim rests on the shoulders of the individual worker.
Talk to a Miami Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Payer Law handle workers’ compensation claims for injured workers. Call our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys today to schedule a free consultation and we can discuss your options in more detail.