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Did You Know? Noncitizens Can File for Workers’ Comp in California

  • Published: December 8, 2021

Incidents happen, and non-US citizens might be worried about whether or not they can file a workers’ compensation claim. Many workers who aren’t citizens make the common mistake of believing they are not entitled to workers’ compensation claims when they have been injured on the job in California. According to 2020 findings released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 percent of the United States civilian labor force are not native to the US.

This figure comprises of those who are green card holders, temporary work visa holders, and undocumented immigrants. If you are a noncitizen who is working in California, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation. If you’ve had a workplace incident, consider contacting a California workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more about your eligibility.

Noncitizen Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in California

If you’re not a citizen of the United States, it can be difficult to determine if you qualify for workers’ compensation, since workers’ compensation laws can be difficult to understand. Essentially, if you have been injured at your workplace in California, the law states that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of your citizen status.

In California, employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and this insurance does not discriminate based on who you are or the circumstances surrounding your injury. This means that even if you’re not legally authorized to work in the United States, you are entitled to aid when injured at your place of work. A California attorney can look into helping you file a worker’s compensation claim regardless of your immigration status.

Those Who Are Exempt from Workers’ Compensation

Unlike in other US states, most workers are protected by workers’ compensation in California. Any employer that has at minimum one employee is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.

It might be difficult to believe, but there are no workers’ compensation exceptions if you are a full-time or part-time, or seasonal employee. There are also no exceptions based on your immigration status, as we mentioned briefly before. Green card holders and undocumented workers are also entitled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.

However, you should note that there are a few restrictions on available benefits if you are an undocumented worker. As evidenced, California has some of the most comprehensive workers’ compensation coverage in the United States. Yet, certain workers are unfortunately not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Independent contractors
  • Those who work for aid instead of monetary payment
  • Deputy sheriffs and deputy clerks
  • Any domestic worker who is related to their employer
  • Volunteers for non-profit organizations
  • Sole proprietors
  • Business owners

Essentially, if you are a paid employee who is not related to your employer, you likely qualify for benefits. It’s recommended to contact a California workers’ compensation lawyer to confirm if any of these exceptions apply to you.

What Are the Potential Workers’ Comp Benefits?

When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you will receive a few key benefits if your claim gets approved. You have a higher likelihood of getting a claim approved if you work with a California attorney.

Below, we have briefly listed the various workers’ compensation benefits available to citizens and non-citizens who aren’t classified as exempt workers.

  • Temporary disability payments
  • Medical treatment
  • Vouchers for supplemental job displacement
  • Death benefits
  • Permanent disability payments

Again, you’ll want to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to determine which of these will apply to you in your specific incident.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in California as a Noncitizen

Generally, when you file a workers’ compensation claim as a noncitizen, you will follow the same procedures that citizens must complete. To increase the likelihood of receiving workers’ compensation benefits in California, it is your responsibility to make sure your claim is filed on time.

In California, the statute of limitations regarding workers’ compensation claims states that you have one year from the date of your job-related illness or injury to file a claim. However, it can be difficult to determine the start date for when a cumulative trauma injury or occupational disease occurred.

In these instances, your time limit of one year will begin after you first missed work or consulted with a doctor about your injury or illness. Or it will begin after you consulted with a doctor, and you became aware of or should have known that your work caused your injury or illness.

The filing procedure for workers’ compensation claims in California is a three-part endeavor. You will need to report your injury, file a claim with your employer, and you need to file an “application for adjudication of claim.” You will file this specialized claim with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Get in Touch with a California Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your Claim

It can be a complex and challenging situation trying to file and obtain workers’ compensation benefits in California if you are not a citizen of the United States. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation process is the same regardless of if you are a citizen or not. If your employer discriminates against you or tries to withhold workers’ compensation benefits because of your immigration status, you should consider consulting a California workers’ compensation lawyer.

The KCNS Law Group is a specialized boutique law firm that focuses on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We have a legal team of committed professionals dedicated to advocating for those whose rights are being abused. With over 40 years of combined experience, our law firm can look into handling your worker’s compensation claim, even if you are not a US citizen. To schedule a consultation with us, you can contact us here or call (818) 937-9255.

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