The city and state of New York is home to over a million illegal immigrant (s) from all over the world. According to NYC government “Immigrants comprise 37.2 percent of the city’s population but 44.2 percent of the labor force.” 44.2% of the workforce – that’s close to half the working population in New York City. Every day we see workers, documented and undocumented, working in construction, in our stores, restaurants and offices. Many of them are the commuters on our trains and subways, drivers or bicyclists on the roads and pedestrians on the sidewalks.
When personal injury strikes, it doesn’t discriminate based on status, illegal or undocumented vs documented. Because of their status, many undocumented people are only able to work certain jobs and in many situations, forced to do jobs that others would not because of the pay and/or danger that the job entails. According to the nyc.gov site referenced above, “Despite higher labor force participation and increases in educational attainment, median annual earnings for undocumented immigrants ($25,300) is significantly lower than earnings for U.S.-born citizens ($45,500).”
If you are an illegal immigrant and you’ve been injured in an accident, your status does not prevent you from bringing a claim for personal injury.
What do the Courts say?
The Courts in New York, State and Federal have ruled that if you’ve been injured on the job, your status should not prevent you from seeking legal help and potentially compensation for your injuries.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA) has held that it’s unlawful for undocumented individuals to submit or use false/forged identity documents to obtain employment and it’s also unlawful for an employer to hire an illegal alien, knowing that he/she is illegal. As long as you have not knowingly or intentionally violated the law in obtaining employment in New York, you should not be prevented from seeking compensation for your loss of earnings, if you were injured on the job.
Let’s take an example, you’re an undocumented construction worker working on a New York construction site and you get injured. First and foremost, in New York you are entitled to apply for workers compensation benefits that provide coverage for your medical treatment and also coverage for loss of earnings for your time out of work. Irrespective of your status, you may also be able to bring a third-party lawsuit against the owner, construction manager and/or general contractor for your injuries. This is where an experienced personal injury
attorney comes in as you need to contact one as soon as possible after a construction accident so that the attorney can advise you of your rights, advise you as to what you’re entitled to and give you the direction you need to make sure that you take care of yourself and your rights. An experienced personal injury attorney will discuss all the facts of your case, how your accident happened and what injuries you sustained. The experienced personal injury attorney will also inquire as to your work history, pay history, how you obtained employment and what personal information was provided in order to obtain employment and can then advise you accordingly.
Construction workers injured on the job is just one example, these accidents can happen to anyone in any walk of life whether it’s in car or truck, on a sidewalk or in a restuarant. There are a number of areas that need to be explored in order to protect your rights and it is crucial that you speak to a personal injury attorney who is familiar with dealing with undocumented individuals who have been injured as a result of negligence in the state of New York.