Can a work injured illegal immigrant obtain benefits? In Indiana, it depends

Thanks to www.workcompcentral.com (subscription required) I have a case study of the snarl-ups often experienced today when an illegal immigrants suffers a work injury, about which there is no dispute it happened. Her or his payments can still be cut off. A guest worker program will eliminate all of these trap doors, which I have found the large majority of work injury experts are unaware of.
The matter at hand in this Indiana case is whether the injured worker is entitled to benefits after having reached “maximum medical improvement” and is still disabled – that is, simply is not going to get any better. The worker, Benjamin Marrufo, says through his lawyer that he is still not at “MMI.” The problem for him in reaching MMI is that the court may decide (as it appears to in other jurisdictions) that an illegal worker is not eligible for ongoing permanent benefits.
The article says….
Mindel [his lawyer] disputes that his client is at MMI, and said that under Indiana workers’ compensation law his client cannot request an independent medical examination because of his illegal status. To be eligible for an independent medical evaluation, an injured worker must have received total temporary disability — which an undocumented cannot collect under the law, Mindel said, adding that he doesn’t expect his client’s claim to be a test for the state high court.
Marrufo is a 47-year-old Mexican national who admittedly came to the United States eight years ago. He filed a workers’ compensation claim for a May 2006 back injury and received medical benefits.
He did not receive any temporary disability for loss of wages during his recuperation, his attorney said.
Indiana courts have not decided whether undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. State courts in California, New York, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Alabama [and other states – PFR]have all ruled that illegal aliens are entitled to medical benefits. Most of the courts, however, have said no to wage-replacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation because the worker is in the country illegally.
A South Carolina lawmaker this year will push to exclude undocumented workers from his state’s workers’ comp system.
“My bill is a very simple bill,” Sen. Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia, was quoted as saying last month. “It says that if a person applies for workman’s compensation, they must show that they are a legal citizen.”

Comments are closed.