Are Undocumented Workers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina?
Yes, undocumented workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina.
With very limited exceptions, undocumented workers are entitled to receive the same medical and disability benefits as other workers.
The insurance company cannot ask about your immigration status when deciding whether to accept your claim.
Even if the insurance company learns you are undocumented, it cannot deny your claim based on your immigration status.
What Benefits are Not Included in Workers’ Compensation?
Workers, regardless of their immigration status, are not entitled to receive certain common law remedies, such as damages for pain and suffering, in workers’ compensation claims.
Additionally, undocumented workers may be limited from receiving certain workers’ compensation benefits available to documented workers.
For example, a vocational rehabilitation counselor may be prohibited from helping an undocumented worker look for employment.
If an undocumented worker’s doctor says they can medically return to work in some capacity, the insurance company may argue that the worker’s inability to work is due to their immigration status rather than their injury.
As such, the insurance company will argue the worker should no longer be paid for lost wages and seek to terminate disability benefits based on this argument. The insurance company has the burden of proof when it makes such an argument.
Our board-certified workers’ compensation specialists will carefully review the legal pleadings and evidence received from the insurance company in support of its request to terminate your disability compensation.
We will make the insurance company meet their burden of proof before your wage loss benefits can be terminated. Often, the insurance company is unable to do so and your wage loss benefits will be continued.
We Protect Undocumented Workers and Their Families
Approximately 3.1% of North Carolina’s population, or 325,000, is undocumented. An even larger amount of people has a family member or close friend who is undocumented.
It is important to know that your communications with our firm are confidential. If you hire us, our communications will be protected by the attorney-client privilege.
We will not disclose your or your loved one’s immigration status. Furthermore, the insurance company and its attorney are ethically prohibited from disclosing your immigration status to ICE or other law enforcement agencies.
The employer of an undocumented worker, however, is permitted to terminate their employment after learning their immigration status.
The employer and other individuals involved in a claim are not subject to the same ethical rules as the insurance company and its attorney. We will take every step in our power to protect information about your immigration status.
We will not allow your employer to threaten retaliation or their attempts to deter you from seeking the workers’ compensation benefits you are legally entitled to receive.
Undocumented workers are an integral part of North Carolina’s economy. Yet, they are also some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Many companies knowingly hire undocumented workers and then exploit them. These companies force undocumented workers to work in dangerous conditions and disregard their safety.
These companies are betting on undocumented workers not filing workers’ compensation claims out of fear of being deported.
Undocumented workers often fear filing a workers’ compensation claim because they do not want to appear in court or before a judge. They are worried their undocumented status will be discovered during legal proceedings in their workers’ compensation claim.
Even documented workers can be hesitant about filing a claim out of worry that the undocumented status of the family member they live with will be discovered.
We want to reiterate that undocumented workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina.
Information discovered about an injured worker’s immigration status during a workers’ compensation claim generally will not be reported to law enforcement or immigration agencies.
The legal system can be an uphill battle for undocumented immigrants, regardless of the area of law.
When Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Mehta & McConnell level the playing field in workers’ compensation claims for undocumented workers who are often exploited by their employers.
We will help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you are legally entitled to receive while protecting sensitive information about you and your family.
Contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your workers’ compensation claim.