GASTONIA, North Carolina. Individuals who are injured on the job are entitled to medical care and coverage for lost wages under worker’s compensation laws. In almost all states, individuals are entitled to medical care regardless of their legal status in the country. However, as states begin to weaken worker’s compensation laws, injured workers may be facing greater challenges in having their medical care covered. Many employers and companies are actively fighting to avoid having to cover undocumented workers who are among some of the more vulnerable workers in America. According to ProPublica, some employers are using their employees’ undocumented status to deny them coverage under worker’s compensation.
For example, under Florida law, individuals are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits whether or not they are documented. However, some employers have found a loophole in the system whereby they can use the state’s insurance fraud unit to report undocumented workers for insurance fraud. The workers may face arrest and deportation and the company is then off the hook for their medical bills.
Worse, individuals are often arrested by ICE when they are most vulnerable. Some are seriously injured or disabled. Individuals then have to fight their deportation while also fighting to heal and recover from their injuries. The impact on their families, their livelihoods, and their health is devastating. For some, a slip and fall injury can lead to detention and ultimately, deportation.
The good news is that ProPublica’s reporting seems to be getting results. Legislators in Florida are speaking out about the loophole and claim that they don’t support the deportation of immigrants who have been hurt on the job. As it stands, though, 800 people in Florida have been affected by the loophole, and it isn’t clear how many more will be impacted until the loophole has been closed.
Worse, the loophole may be making workplaces more dangerous for all workers, not just for the undocumented. For instance, employers may hire undocumented workers knowing that they won’t have to pay their claims. These employers may not train their workers or offer them the safety equipment they need. The workplace may be unsafe. This can hurt documented workers and also individuals who happen to be passing through or live near a work site.
Until the law is changed, injured workers and individuals who have been hurt due to construction accidents or due to safety hazards in their communities have the right to fight back. If you are a worker, you have the right to fight for your worker’s compensation. If you were injured near a construction site or due to the actions of a company, you may be entitled to seek damages from the company. J. Boyce Garland, Jr.: Attorney at Law are personal injury lawyers in Gastonia, North Carolina who understand how devastating an injury can be for victims and families. Our firm can take the time to review your case, seek damages, and help you understand your rights under the law. Visit us at http://jboyceattorney.com/ to learn more.