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The Impact of Immigration Status on Construction Accident Claims

By Dansker & Aspromonte

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July 20, 2024

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Construction work is inherently hazardous, and accidents can happen despite the best safety precautions. When a construction worker is injured on the job in New York, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or the opportunity to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the impact of immigration status can significantly affect a worker’s ability to pursue claims and receive compensation for injuries sustained in construction accidents.

Understanding the Legal Rights of Workers

Workers’ Compensation in New York

In New York, workers’ compensation is a system designed to provide financial support and medical benefits to employees who are injured on the job, regardless of fault. These benefits can include medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits. Importantly, workers’ compensation is available to all eligible employees, regardless of their immigration status.

Third-Party Personal Injury Claims

In addition to workers’ compensation, injured construction workers may have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third party whose negligence contributed to the accident. This legal avenue is not restricted by immigration status either, making it an important option for injured workers seeking full compensation.

The Impact of Immigration Status

Fear of Reporting Injuries

Despite the availability of workers’ compensation benefits, undocumented workers or those with uncertain immigration status often fear reporting injuries to their employers. The fear of potential immigration consequences, including deportation, can deter injured workers from seeking the compensation they are entitled to, leaving them to cope with medical bills, lost wages and lingering pain from a work injury on their own.

Employer Exploitation

Some employers may take advantage of their employees’ immigration status to avoid liability for workplace injuries. They might pressure workers not to report accidents or may misclassify them as independent contractors to escape legal responsibility. Such practices can further complicate the process of seeking compensation.

Legal Challenges

Undocumented workers may encounter additional legal challenges when pursuing claims, including potential bias or discrimination within the legal system. These obstacles can hinder their ability to navigate the complexities of the workers’ compensation process effectively.

Overcoming the Challenges

Seek Legal Counsel

The first step in overcoming the challenges related to immigration status and construction accident claims in New York is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can help workers understand their rights, provide guidance on the legal process, and advocate on their behalf. 

Document the Injury

Regardless of immigration status, injured workers should promptly report accidents to their employers and seek medical attention. Documenting the injury and receiving timely medical treatment is crucial to building a strong case for compensation.

Know Your Rights

It’s essential for workers to be aware of their rights and the protections afforded to them under workers’ compensation and personal injury laws in New York. Knowledge is power when navigating the legal system.

Avoid Retaliation

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who report workplace injuries or seek workers’ compensation benefits. Understanding this protection can provide some reassurance to workers worried about their job security.

The impact of immigration status on construction accident claims in New York is a complex and challenging issue. It is crucial for injured construction workers, regardless of their immigration status, to seek legal counsel from Dansker & Aspromonte Associates LLP, know their rights, and take steps to protect themselves in the event of a workplace accident. By doing so, they can work towards securing the compensation and support they need to recover from their injuries and move forward with their lives.

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