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Injured, Undocumented California Workers Can Still File A Lawsuit

Injured, Undocumented California Workers Can Still File A Lawsuit
Christian J. Amendt

The State of California affords undocumented workers the same rights and legal protections under the law as naturalized citizens, and this applies to employment and workers’ comp claims and third party lawsuits.

An employer and the employer’s insurance company must grant all benefits under workers’ compensation laws to undocumented workers. But a worker can also bring a third party lawsuit in the event that the worker is injured on the job.

California Assembly Bill 2159

Governor Jerry Brown and key legislators presented Assembly Bill 2159 in the California Assembly, and the Assembly passed the bill into law. It affirms undocumented workers have the same protection and benefits in a personal injury case as a naturalized citizen. Thus, undocumented workers do not have to fearful if injured on the job and having an employer dismiss them.

Immigration status does not matter in personal injury cases

Undocumented workers often hesitate or decline to file for a workplace injury or lawsuit because of the threat of deportation. An undocumented worker may face deportation proceedings, but that is far from certain in these cases. In addition, an attorney cannot threaten an undocumented worker with deportation for filing a worker’s comp claim or third party lawsuit.

Real risks for undocumented workers

Behind the scenes at construction sites and other industrial settings, companies and managers do not always fairly and equitably assign tasks to undocumented workers. Work site managers often give these workers difficult and risky jobs because they are not part of a union that provides an additional level of support and protection. As a result, these workers often suffer significant injuries on the job.

The responsible party in a third party lawsuit

Construction sites are notoriously dangerous places for workers. In a serious injury case, the responsible parties may include:

  • The on-site subcontractor
  • The manufacturer of a piece of faulty equipment or defective product
  • The property owner

Undocumented and immigrant workers are an integral and sizable part of the California economy. These workers make vital contributions to the community where they work and live. When it comes to getting hurt on the job due to faulty equipment, defective products or a premises liability issue, a person’s citizenship status does not affect their ability to file a third party lawsuit.

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