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Can I Still Get Workers’ Comp if I am Undocumented?

Posted in Workers' Compensation Laws on May 23, 2023

When we examine the information available from the Pew Research Center, we can see that there are approximately 275,000 undocumented individuals residing in the state of Arizona. These are individuals that you see every day. They work alongside you, and their children go to school with your children. They shop in the same stores and eat in the same restaurants.

But what happens when an undocumented worker sustains an on-the-job injury? Can they still recover workers’ compensation benefits?

We want you to know that all injured workers, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Arizona. Our Phoenix workers’ compensation attorneys can help. 

What Arizona Law Says

When we examine the language of A.R.S. §23-901-(6)(b), we can see that almost any person who sustains an on-the-job injury is able to recover workers’ compensation benefits – “Every person in the service of any employer subject to this chapter, including aliens and minors legally or illegally allowed to work for hire…”

The law in Arizona is clear about whether or not undocumented workers can receive benefits – they can. 

It is not uncommon for undocumented immigrants in this country to face significant challenges when they sustain a work injury. In some cases, an employer or an insurance carrier may insinuate that because a person is undocumented, they cannot get workers’ compensation benefits. This is not true, and any workplace injury victim should reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer who can help them recover the compensation they are entitled to. 

Even if an employer offers to cover some medical bills and lost wages out of their own pocket, individuals need to file an official workers’ compensation claim because this offers long-term protection in case of a disability.

We understand the situation can be complicated, particularly if an individual used a different name or Social Security number when applying for their job. Using another person’s identity or Social Security number could be a violation in other areas of law, but this is not a reason to deny workers’ compensation benefits.

If an employer is uninsured, meaning that they are not carrying workers’ compensation benefits, injured undocumented workers can still recover benefits through the Special Fund Division of the Industrial Commission of Arizona. This fund has been established to help workplace injury victims recover benefits if their employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time the injury occurred.

Types of Compensation Available

Workplace injury victims, regardless of immigration status, should be able to receive complete coverage of all medical bills related to the injury. This includes emergency medical expenses, ongoing medical costs, and long-term disability benefits depending on the injury and prognosis.

If an individual is unable to work as a result of their injury, they should be able to receive up to two-thirds of their wages as payment until they are able to return to work.

In some situations, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party who caused a workplace injury. This is separate from a workers’ compensation claim and moves the case into the civil court system. Under this system, it is necessary to prove that another party was negligent and that their negligence caused the injury. If a personal injury claim is successful, workplace injury victims should be able to receive coverage for their medical bills, all of their lost wages, and various types of pain and suffering damages.