If I’m an undocumented worker, can I still file for workers’ compensation in California?

Russell L. Glauber - Workers' Compensation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Russell L. Glauber

Glauber Berenson Vego
Glendale, CA
Phone: 626-657-0581
Fax: 626-796-4499

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In California, as in many states, undocumented workers are provided for in the event of a workplace accident. California Labor Code section 3351(a) specifically includes “aliens and minors” in its definition of an employee. Because of that definition, not only can undocumented workers file for workers’ compensation benefits, but they also have the right to earn overtime pay and file health, safety or other labor employment claims against their employer. Yet, the ability to pursue a claim is only part of the issue facing undocumented workers. 

Though undocumented workers are covered by workers’ compensation policies, they face the same issues as documented workers in actually obtaining benefits, as the process is the same. You need to speak with an attorney who is experienced in that type of case, and they can help you gather the necessary evidence and paperwork. It is important to: 

  • Be sure to report the injury promptly. Many workers, not just undocumented ones, do not report their injuries to their supervisor as soon as they happen. You might think you will go home, rest and get better quickly. However, it is important to create a record of any injury that happens at work in case it becomes serious.
  • Go see a doctor. Undocumented workers often do not have steady benefits, and seeing a doctor can be difficult. It is important to carve out the time: a medical record of your injury and its impact on your life can be very helpful to your case. In some cases, you can be reimbursed for treatment through your compensation claim.
  • Make sure that you are following deadlines. There is a lot of paperwork involved in these types of claims, and deadlines. A good attorney can help you make sure that your case is complying with them. 

Undocumented workers often worry that they will be fired or unable to return to work if they file a workers’ compensation claim. However, the fact that they are classified as employees, regardless of their status as documented or not, means that like all workers, they may not be fired for bringing a claim. 

In California, undocumented workers are counted as employees. This means that they are entitled to all the same employment law benefits as citizens of the United States. If you have been injured at work, it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer to pursue a claim and get you and your family the help you deserve. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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