Are Undocumented Workers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
Immigrants make up a large percentage of the workforce in Florida. While most of the immigrants are authorized to live and work in the U.S., others are not. Pew Research Center estimated that Florida had more than 775,000 unauthorized immigrants in 2016.
The majority of undocumented workers work in the following industries:
- Construction industry
- Food production and processing
- Food retail and distribution
All of these industries also happen to have high rates of workplace injury. This begs the question, “Are undocumented workers eligible for workers’ compensation in Florida?” Or does your immigration status prevent you from seeking workers’ comp benefits if you are an undocumented worker who sustained an on-the-job injury?
Who is Entitled to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Under the Florida workers’ compensation law, employers with four or more employees are legally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees’ lost wages and medical expenses associated with a work-related injury.
Note: Employers in the construction industry must carry workers’ comp insurance if they have one or more employees.
Workers’ comp benefits are available to full-time and part-time employees. But what about undocumented workers? Are they covered by Florida’s workers’ compensation law?
Can Undocumented Workers Obtain Workers’ Comp Benefits in Florida?
Many undocumented workers who get injured in the workplace are not sure whether or not they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. The short answer is, “yes.” Your immigration status should not prevent you from obtaining workers’ comp benefits if you were injured at work or developed a work-related medical condition.
While you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits as an undocumented worker in Florida, you are likely to encounter certain challenges during the workers’ compensation claims process.
What to Do if Your Employer Threatens with Deportation?
It is not uncommon for employers to try and deny undocumented employees’ right to seek workers’ comp benefits. Also, your employer may delay the claims process or intimidate you into losing your legal right to workers’ compensation by threatening with deportation.
If this happens, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Your right to workers’ compensation benefits has nothing to do with your immigration status. Under the Florida workers’ comp law, undocumented workers are eligible for benefits as long as they meet three basic requirements:
- They are classified as an employee (not an independent contractor);
- The employer is legally required to carry workers’ comp insurance; and
- The injury or illness is related to the job.
Do NOT Provide a False Social Security Number
It is understandable that undocumented workers fear that bringing a workers’ compensation claim could get them deported. For this reason, some illegal immigrants end up providing a false social security number. However, they are doing more harm than good because giving a false socials security number could result in complete denial of workers’ comp benefits.
If you were injured at work as an undocumented worker, you might be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Consult with our Tampa workers’ compensation attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Kobal Law to discuss your particular case. Call at 813-873-2440 to get a consultation.