Undocumented Workers And Workers’ Compensation
The Sunshine State has a sizable number of undocumented workers, all of who have a role in the state’s economy and workforce. These workers often perform some of the most dangerous and deadly jobs because employers know that there is a lower chance of undocumented workers seeking compensation or speaking out against the safety of the job, therefore helping to preserve lower insurance premiums. However, the most important thing for any worker to know is that he or she has the right to advocate for his or her health and safety, especially after being injured at work.
Do Undocumented Workers Have the Right to Seek Compensation After an Accident?
Generally speaking, yes. Despite what your employer, its insurance company or your coworkers may have told you, you are typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of your immigration status if you are hurt at work. Undocumented workers are generally entitled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that occur at work during the scope of employment under Florida law, just like any other injured worker. Workers’ compensation benefits exist in order to compensate workers for expenses related to an unexpected workplace injury such as lost wages and medical bills and treatment. These benefits can also include death benefits for family members of workers who were, sadly, killed on the job.
But What Should Undocumented Workers Know About Florida Law?
While all injured workers should understand that they may have rights to workers’ compensation benefits, it is also important to understand that section 440.105(4)(b) of Florida law provides that it is a felony to apply for or obtain work with false documents. Further, Section 440.09(4)(a) prohibits an employee from receiving workers’ compensation benefits if he or she commits a violation of section 440.105(4)(b). This was illustrated in a recent appellate case.
In Hernandez v. Food Market Corp., the 1st District Court of Appeal recently rejected a constitutional challenge to a Florida law prohibiting a worker from receiving benefits for providing a false Social Security number (SSN) in order to obtain treatment. After the worker in that case suffered injuries at work in July 2017, she was directed to obtain medical treatment where she admittedly entered an invalid number on the form because she believed she needed to do so to obtain authorized medical care. The worker argued that the law is unconstitutional because her provision of a false SSN was related to her immigration status and thus is preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The Court disagreed and held against her in finding that a claimant’s lack of lawful immigration status is not a defense to providing fraudulent information to obtain benefits.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Workplace Accident?
Workers’ compensation cases involving undocumented workers can be challenging, and the other side will do everything it can to deny benefits. This is why it is so important to obtain the help of a legal team that’s focused on working on ensuring that your rights are protected and that you get the benefits you deserve. As the Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates, we are experienced in helping injured workers pursue workers’ compensation benefits in challenging circumstances and we are motivated by advocating for our clients to ensure they maximize their rights. Begin by contacting us today for a complimentary consultation so we can review the circumstances of your workplace injury.