Can My Injury Claim be Denied Based on My Immigration Status?

Injured Workers Have Rights, Regardless of Immigration Status

If you are an undocumented worker and you have suffered a job-related injury, you have the right to seek financial compensation in the form of workers’ compensation benefits or personal injury damages. Once you file a claim, your claim cannot be denied based upon your immigration status. Your employer cannot deny your claim because you are an undocumented worker. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company cannot deny your claim because you are in the country illegally. Not even the Texas courts cannot deny you compensation based upon your undocumented status.

Undocumented Workers’ Rights Under Texas Law

While immigration is a matter of federal law in the United States, the Texas courts have ruled that federal immigration law does not preempt workers’ rights under state law. This means that federal laws such as the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) do not prevent undocumented workers from asserting their state law rights to workers’ compensation benefits and personal injury damages. In the case of Grocers Supply, Inc. v. Cabello, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 10681 (Tex. App.—Dallas Dec. 21, 2012), a Texas employer attempted to deny three undocumented workers’ injury claims based upon their status as undocumented workers. However, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that the employer, “failed to meet its burden of showing that Congress, by enacting IRCA, expressed a clear . . . intent to . . . override the sovereignty of Texas law allowing recovery for [personal] injuries.” As a result, it affirmed the trial court’s judgment awarding damages for lost past and future wages.

Today, Grocers Supply, Inc. v. Cabello remains the governing law in Texas regarding undocumented workers’ claims for injury compensation. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act provides protections for undocumented workers as well. So, regardless of whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation or you need to file a personal injury claim to recover your losses, your immigration status should not be a factor in your claim for compensation.

When Can a Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury Claim Be Denied?

While your injury claim cannot be denied based on your immigration status, there are a number of other reasons why employers, insurance companies, and the Texas courts can deny claims for work injury compensation. Both documented and undocumented workers can face denials due to:

  • Failure to see an approved physician (in the case of workers’ compensation)
  • Failure to prove employer negligence (in the case of a personal injury claim)
  • Failure to meet the deadlines for providing notice or filing a claim
  • Failure to satisfy the technical requirements for submitting a claim
  • Submitting claims that are not eligible for financial compensation

Of course, employers and their insurance companies frequently wrongfully deny undocumented workers’ claims as well. As a result, whether you were just injured or you have already had your claim denied, you should speak with an attorney about protecting your rights as soon as possible.

Speak with an Experienced Attorney in Confidence

If you would like more information about seeking financial compensation for a work-related injury, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced attorney in confidence, please call (210) 308-8811 or contact our San Antonio law offices online today.