Hispanic and Latino workers in North Carolina are injured or killed on the job at a “persistently higher rate” than other members of the workforce, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The majority of employees who suffer job injuries are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But what if you’re an undocumented worker? Can a non-legal resident still get workers’ comp in North Carolina?
The answer is yes. North Carolina law allows for undocumented immigrants to obtain workers’ compensation benefits without fear of retaliation by their employers. Many workers do not realize this and are understandably fearful of reporting a work injury. Our attorneys can help you.
If you were hurt at work and have questions about how your legal status may impact your right to benefits, let an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer at Stewart Law Offices review your case. Everything we discuss during your free consultation is confidential, and we cannot reveal anything about your immigration status to anyone else.
In addition, Charlotte attorney Marcus Spake is fluent in Spanish and can explain your legal rights clearly so that you understand all of your options under North Carolina workers’ compensation law.
Questions? Call or contact us for a free consultation today.
Workers’ Compensation for Hispanic and Latino Employees
There’s no one explanation for why Hispanic and Latino workers are hurt more frequently at work compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Several factors may play a role. First, Hispanic employees tend to work in the most high-risk occupations. Around 43 percent of Hispanic and Latino employees work in the farming, fishing, or forestry industries. Another 32 percent work in construction. These jobs have the highest fatality rates for all employees nationwide. Among those industries, warehouse and delivery jobs are rising in popularity throughout in NC. These jobs can be just as dangerous if safety precautions are not in place.
Another possibility is that many Hispanic and Latino workers are not fluent in English. Some jobs may not provide safety policies written in their native languages, making it difficult for them to know the required protocols or what to do if they get hurt.
Here’s what you need to know: If you were hurt performing a task within the scope of your employment, you could very well be entitled to workers’ compensation. These benefits provide coverage for medical expenses, wage loss, and temporary or permanent disability for injured workers. Death benefits are also possible for family members.
Rights of Undocumented Workers in North Carolina
There are roughly 350,000 undocumented workers in North Carolina, according to the American Immigration Council. Those employees still have rights to workers’ comp if they sustain a job-related injury or are diagnosed with an occupational illness. However, they may face challenges in the rightful pursuit of those benefits.
For example, employers may try to deny workers’ compensation to a non-legal resident by arguing that they were not authorized to work in the United States and are therefore not entitled to the same benefits as legal employees. That won’t work in North Carolina. According to the state Workers’ Compensation Act, the definition of an employee includes aliens, whether they are lawfully employed or not.
Does that mean you are automatically entitled to coverage? No. Just like everyone else, you will have to prove that your injury was work-related. You will also have to report your injury and seek prompt medical treatment. A workers’ compensation attorney can assist you with the entire process. You won’t have to worry about filling out complex forms or dealing with stubborn employers and their insurers. A lawyer can handle that for you.
Hurt at Work? Get Legal Help Now
If you were injured on the job in North Carolina, don’t give up on getting the workers’ comp that you need and deserve. Get a knowledgeable lawyer on your side.
At Stewart Law Offices, you will be represented by attorneys who know workers’ compensation law and won’t let clients be taken advantage of. If you have special circumstances, such as immigration concerns, let our lawyers take care of you. We’ll enforce your rights and fight for you to obtain the compensation that you are owed.
Ready for help? We’re here for you. Call or contact us online for a free consultation.