There are thousands of undocumented workers employed in Virginia. If you are an illegal alien or undocumented worker who suffered an injury in a workplace accident or during the course of your employment, you may be wondering if you are able to claim state workers’ compensation benefits.
The short answer is “yes, you can.”
For a long time, Virginia laws stated that illegal aliens could not utilize the workers’ compensation system if they suffer an injury on the job. In 1999, the Virginia Supreme Court said an undocumented immigrant could not receive any workers’ compensation benefits when he or she was injured.
But since the federal law states that undocumented workers should access to all workplace safety benefits, Virginia businesses were open to being sued by injured illegal aliens. To avoid being open to lawsuits, state businesses decided they would rather provide partial workers’ compensation.
Under Virginia’s current workers’ compensation system, employers must provide benefits to workers injured because of their job, including medical and wage-replacement benefits. The employer and its insurance carrier must pay for 100 percent of your medical treatment and pay wage loss benefits equal to two-thirds of the employee’s pre-injury average weekly wage.
The illegal alien can be paid for a specific loss of an extremity. Additionally, the survivors of undocumented workers can also receive death benefits if the illegal alien dies in a workplace accident.
However, if an undocumented worker is released to light duty work, he or she is not entitled to wage loss benefits. Since the Workers’ Compensation Commission has found that an illegal alien is unable to conduct a good faith job search if he or she is unable to lawfully work in the United States.
In summary, illegal aliens can receive some benefits in Virginia. However, they do not receive the full range of compensation benefits that are offered to a legal citizen in the state.
Are you or a loved one facing an injury that you received on the job? Do not hesitate to contact our Richmond workers’ comp attorneys at Harbison & Kavanagh at (804) 823-2050 to schedule your free initial consultation.