Generally, employers that provide workers’ compensation benefits cannot be sued by their workers for work-related injuries other than for the underlying workers’ compensation case. However, you might be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party that contributed to the workplace accident that caused your injuries. For example, a company acting as the general contractor at a construction site may have multiple subcontractors working at the same time. If you were injured due to hazardous conditions created by another company working on the construction site, you may have a right to sue that other company while also pursuing a workers’ compensation case against your direct employer.
The compensation you may be entitled to pursue as an undocumented construction worker with a workplace injury that arose by another party that contributed to the work place incident includes the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Hospital bills, imaging tests, prescription medications, and other medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Damage to personal property
Punitive damages may be sought in a personal injury lawsuit in special circumstances.
Can You Be Deported for Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
You may be concerned about your employer notifying the authorities of your immigration status if you pursue a workers’ compensation claim. However, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), most state laws regarding workers’ compensation prohibit employers from retaliation against employees for filing workers’ comp claims.
Your employer is unlikely to report you because businesses are prohibited from knowingly employing undocumented workers. If your employer threatens to have you deported for filing a workers’ comp claim, speak with an attorney immediately to understand your rights.
Are Immigrant Workers Being Exploited in Construction Jobs?
Undocumented workers often take jobs in dangerous industries, including construction. Some employers hire undocumented workers to cut labor costs by paying below the required minimum wage. Some pay their workers in cash to avoid creating employee records. This allows these employers to subject their immigrant workers to dangerous working conditions and avoid having to provide workers’ comp benefits.
According to the Urban Institute, nearly one in four fatally injured immigrant workers in the United States is employed in the construction industry. Immigrant workers in the construction industry are often paid significantly less than their non-immigrant counterparts for the same work, the Urban Institute says.
Non-union contractor jobs are among the most dangerous in the construction industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), union worksites are 19 percent less likely to have an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violation and have 34 percent fewer violations per OSHA inspection than non-union sites.
How Can a Lawyer Help My Workers’ Compensation Case?
A knowledgeable North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer with Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., can assist you with every aspect of your workers’ compensation case by:
- Advising you on your rights
- Preparing all forms and documentation for your claim
- Filing the workers’ compensation claim on your behalf
- Submitting the available evidence proving your job-related injury
- Protecting you from employer retaliation
- Protecting your rights under federal and state laws
- Filing an appeal for a denied claim