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Undocumented Worker’s now Receive Disability Benefits

Idaho Supreme Court Awards Injured Undocumented Workers 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. Prior to 2017, if you were undocumented, and you were hurt at work, Idaho workers compensation insurance companies were able pay you only a portion of benefits under the Idaho Workers Compensation laws. They were able to deny the payment of disability benefits. The case entitled the insurance companies to cheat you out of tens of thousands of dollars in disability benefits, because you came from another country and were undocumented. The insurance company’s days of mistreating people from other countries are now over. The workers compensation laws have changed. 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, Leonor Serna and Mike Campbell are members of our team, and they all speak 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 came 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 decision was then made even better by the Idaho Supreme Court in their decision in Marquez v. Pierce Painting, Inc 164 Idaho 59, 423 P.3d 1011 (2018) when they said undocumented workers are entitled to be paid Idaho Workers Compensation disability benefits. The Idaho Supreme Court also said that the fact that the injured worker is undocumented has to be taken into consideration by the Idaho Industrial Commission when calculating an undocumented injured worker’s disability.

This is good news! If you have come from another country, do not 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 to 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 his 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 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. If you can’t be employed then you have no labor market, if you have no labor market, you can’t have disability. The Commission had ruled in both of these cases that if you to worked in the United States, illegally, both before and after the work injury, you were not entitled to any disability benefits.

After the Commission looked at about the Diaz and Otero cases, in Marquez, the Commission decided IRCA did not preempt Idaho workers compensation laws and told Mr. Marquez he was entitled to be paid disability benefits under the Idaho workers compensation laws. In coming to the favorable decision for Mr. Marquez, the Commission also pointed out almost every other state in the United States had decided that their injured undocumented workers should be paid disability benefits under their state’s worker’s compensation laws.

Finally, the best news of all is that the Idaho Supreme Court agreed that injured, undocumented workers can now be paid disability benefits. This makes the decision permanent. It will result in undocumented workers receiving tens of millions of dollars in disability benefits in the coming years.

Call us today at 208.232.6101 and we will answer your questions for free.

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