Undocumented Worker’s Now Receive Disability Benefits
La ley ha cambiado. Los trabajadores lesionados indocumentados ahora pueden obtener los beneficios discapacidad que se les pagan.
There are an estimated 11,000,000 undocumented people living and working in America. There is no way the American economy could function if these undocumented people were not here. If you were undocumented and you were hurt at work, Idaho workers compensation insurance companies used to be able to deny your claim and not pay you disability benefits that could be tens of thousands of dollars because you came from another country and were undocumented. The insurance company’s days of mistreating people from other countries are now over. The Idaho Industrial Commission recently changed this law. If you are undocumented and you have been hurt on the job, contact an experienced Idaho workers compensation attorney today and find out what benefits you can be paid. Fred J. Lewis and Patrick N. George are experienced Idaho workers compensation lawyers who can tell you about recent changes in Idaho workers compensation laws. Jake Lewis is a member of our team, and he speaks Spanish. Give us a call today at 208.232.6101. We will answer your questions for free! There is no fee or no obligation. We will tell you if you have a case.
The big change in Idaho workers compensation law comes from the decision of Elfego Marquez v. Pierce Painting, Inc. decided on July 11, 2017, the Idaho Industrial Commission decided undocumented injured workers should be paid all benefits under the Idaho workers compensation laws, including disability benefits which is the biggest part of an Idaho workers compensation claim. This is good news! If you have come from another country, don’t quite have your paperwork in order, and you get hurt on the job, do not worry, you can still bring an Idaho worker’s compensation claim. You can now be paid all benefits allowed under Idaho law. The workers compensation insurance companies now have treat you same as any other injured worker.
As noted, the narrow issue that came before the Commission was whether Mr. Marquez was entitled to compensation for “permanent disability” in excess of permanent impairment. In the earlier case involving a Mr. Diaz, the Idaho Industrial Commission had ruled that an injured undocumented person was not entitled to an award of permanent disability because such a worker, having no legal access to his or her labor market either before or subsequent to the accident at issue, cannot be said to have suffered disability as a consequence of the work accident. In his recent case Mr. Marquez urged the Commission to think about whether such a rule was just wrong and totally inconsistent with the humane spirit of the Workers Compensation Act and the rule that the Act is to be read with the idea that injured workers should be paid all the benefits, no matter where they came from or how they got here, not a penny more and not a penny less.
The insurance company and their lawyer in Mr. Marquez’s case tried to sell the Commission on the idea that it should keep the rule that it had established in Mr. Diaz’s case and tell Mr. Marquez he was not entitled to an award of permanent disability. In both the Diaz case and the Otero case, another undocumented worker’s case, the Commission’s no disability rule for undocumented workers was based upon an acceptance that federal law, specifically the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), made it illegal to employ undocumented workers. The Commission had ruled that in both of these cases that the legal inability to work in the United States, both before and after the work injury, made any disability benefits disappear. The Commission said in Otero: What matters is whether a personal factor, in this case, Claimant’s illegal status, so limits Claimant’s ability to engage in gainful activity that the Claimant’s impairment is essentially rendered moot. We find that such a factor exists. Before the accident, Claimant had no access to the labor market. The same is true after the accident. In effect, the accident, while it did affect Claimant’s physical capacities, has not affected his ability to engage in gainful activity in his relevant labor market. He did not possess that ability in the first place. Thus, Claimant is not entitled to benefits for permanent disability, whether total or less than total. Implicit in this argument is that the provisions of IRCA prevail over the Act; the legal inability to work supersedes (preempts) the physical inability to work caused by an industrial injury.
After the Commission looked at these arguments and their prior decisions, it decided IRCA did not preempt Idaho workers compensation laws and told Mr. Marquez he was entitled to be paid disability benefits Idaho workers compensation laws. They pointed out almost every other state had decided that their injured undocumented workers should be paid disability benefits under their state’s workers compensation laws.
Mr. Marquez’s case is now in appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. It will be six months to a year before the Idaho Supreme Court decides this case. At the current time the law in Idaho is if you are an undocumented Idaho worker, you will be paid disability benefits.
Call us today at 208.232.6101 and we will answer your questions for free.
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