States Debate Workers' Compensation Benefits for Undocumented Workers

A number of states, including Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, and South Carolina are in the process of considering bills that would deny workers'compensation benefits to illegal immigrants who are injured on the job.

The United State Supreme Court recently declined to hear a case involving an illegal immigrant in Louisana who pursued workers' compensation benefits after an accident in the workplace.  The Court decided to leave it up to the states to rule about coverage in their jurisdictions.

The issue at hand is a significant one considering there are about 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the nation's workforce, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Although federal law prohibits knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, once they are hired, most states provide workers' compensation benefits regardless of their immigration status.  Generally, courts have held that these workers are entitled to benefits, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that most insurers favor keeping coverage, saying that denying those benefits runs counter to public policy and that workers compensation laws serve a humanitarian purpose.  They also point out that unscrupulous employers could recruit illegal aliens, knowing that they could save the cost of workers' compensation coverage.  

Opponents counter that undocumented workers should not be eligible for benefits, primarily because they are in this country illegally.

However, in Montana, legislators approved H.B. 71 which would prohibit illegal immigrant workers from collecting benefits when they are injured.  If this bill is passed, Montana will become the first state in the nation to completely ban illegal aliens from receiving workers' compensation benefits.

If you are in need of a Myrtle Beach SC workers compensation attorney, Conway lawyer Dirk Derrick at the Derrick Law Firm has been handling worker's compensation claims and on the job injury cases in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Conway SC for over 23 years. Please call 843-248-7486 today.


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