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Will your legal status keep you from getting workers' comp?

When you go to work each day, do you try your best to avoid attention and simply carry out your duties in the hope that you'll make it safely back to your home without any problems? There are many other undocumented immigrants in California who relate to your current situation. Living as a non-citizen in the United States is especially challenging if you're trying to raise a family in the process. Where your job is concerned, you may worry about getting help if you get injured.

You're likely familiar with the workers' compensation program but perhaps worry that you would not be able to file a claim if you were injured in a workplace accident because of your legal status. You may be relieved to know that there are support networks available that provide many resources to help you overcome on-the-job problems pertaining to immigration.

What the law says about workers' comp for undocumented workers

Getting injured in a workplace accident can affect your life in many ways. If you're the sole breadwinner in your family, an injury can take a serious toll on your family's finances. The following information may help clarify legal issues pertaining to workers' compensation for non-citizen employees:

  • It's up to your employer to verify your eligibility to work in the United States.
  • If your papers are not in order and you suffer injury, your employer may try to use eligibility laws against you to keep you from filing a workers' compensation claim.
  • California law expressly includes undocumented workers among those who may receive workers' compensation benefits following injuries in the workplace.
  • Any employer who tries to prevent you from filing a workers' comp claim may be violating state law.

You and other undocumented immigrants comprise at least 10 percent of the nation's entire workforce. It's not logical to assume that out of all those people, none will ever be injured on the job. To the contrary, if you or another non-citizen worker gets injured in a workplace accident, the law allows you to request benefits to help you pay medical bills and replace lost wages during recovery.

Whether you have been living in California a long time or are still new to the United States, it can be stressful trying to navigate the workers' compensation system. If you reach out for support, you may find the process a little less daunting.

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