Can Undocumented Workers Claim Workers’ Compensation?

undocumented worker

There are many undocumented workers with jobs that contribute to the American economy. However, many are worried about whether they are entitled to compensation benefits if something disastrous happens while they are at work. If you want to be informed about your rights despite being an undocumented worker, keep reading. After all, even as an undocumented worker or immigrant, you have certain inalienable rights. 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) VS the Court of Appeals of New York

The IRCA prohibits any US employers from recruiting, hiring, or referring any person that is not authorized to work in the country. Their goal was to keep jobs for those who are legally entitled to have them instead. In other words, this law implemented by the Immigration and Naturalization Service makes it illegal for undocumented workers to work.

However, since states can decide for themselves, the Court of Appeals of New York ordered that undocumented workers are still liable to receive recovery of lost wages due to personal injury—a precedent set through Balbuena v IDR Realty LLC

If you are an undocumented worker in New York who was involved in an accident at work, you should still get the compensation that you deserve, regardless of your immigration status. 

Who Are Entitled to Compensation Benefits

You can file for a claim after a work-related accident if:

  • You are an undocumented employee of the company who acquired illness or received an injury due to your work or workplace
  • Your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, which is a requirement in New York
  • You met the deadline for reporting your injury and filing a claim

Next Steps After Getting Involved in an Accident at Work

Should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, report the injury immediately and file a claim with your employer. Ideally, you should get medical treatment, a percentage of your supposed lost income, and death benefits for the family should the employee be killed due to a fatal workplace accident. 

If you live in other states, you may need to check if the same is implemented in your state.

Are Immigration Documents Important?

You do not have to prove that you are a legal worker. Regardless of your immigration status, your employer has a responsibility that they should fulfill. You are deserving and eligible for the worker’s compensation with or without documentation, so do not be discouraged from filing and claiming it.


Whether you are an undocumented worker or not, employers still have responsibilities to their employees. Your immigration status does not diminish that right. Understand your rights as an employee, whether you have legal documents or not. After all, it can save you or someone you love—both literally and financially. 

Find the right people to help you understand your situation and the compensation you are entitled to. Housenbold Law is an experienced law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of victims of injuries resulting from the negligent conduct of other parties. Contact us, and we will help you get compensation for that injury.