States Debate Workers' Compensation Benefits for Undocumented Workers

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.

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.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Conway, South Carolina office directly at 843.484.0707 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

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