Illegal worker awarded workers comp benefits in legal twist

Work injuries sustained by an illegal worker often lead into a legal labyrinth ending up, usually, with the worker being granted some or all the benefits allowed by a state’s workers compensation system. This Florida case fits the mold.
As reported by WorkCompCentral (subscription required) Angel Miranda was injured in July 2008. His employer paid him under the table for his disability.
When the employer stopped its payments, he filed a workers compensation claim. Only problem: he had no formal record of having earned a wage, presumably he had been paid in cash, and to award disability benefits a worker has to show evidence of what he was paid. Miranda tried to remedy the situation by filing in April 2009 a tax return for 2008. A workers compensation judge awarded Miranda disability benefits; the decision was upheld of appeal.
Whether he was later deported or not the news article did not say.
The article:
Illegal Alien’s Tax Return Entitled Him to Benefits:
An illegal alien’s filing of a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service entitled him to workers’ compensation benefits, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal ruled.
Case: JBD Brother’s and Masonry Inc., et al. v. Miranda, No. 1D09-3402, 1/25/10, published.
Facts: Angel Miranda was an illegal alien from Mexico who has lived in the United States since 2000. In 2008, he began working as a forklift driver and laborer for JBD Brother’s and Masonry. Miranda was injured in July 2008, when he fell from a scaffold at the employer’s job site in Miami.
The employer failed to immediately report the accident to its workers’ compensation carrier, and instead, agreed to make “under the table” payments for Miranda’s medical care and lost time until he recuperated. When the employer halted the payments in September 2008, Miranda retained an attorney and filed a petition for benefits.
The employer responded by reporting the accident to its carrier, which accepted the accident and injury as compensable. However, the carrier denied indemnity benefits because there was no record of Miranda ever having reported his wages to the Internal Revenue Service.
In April 2009, Miranda and his attorney filed forms reporting his 2008 income to the IRS, and seeking an individual taxpayer identification number.
Procedural History: The parties stipulated that Miranda’s reported income equated to an average weekly wage of $480. However, the employer argued that because Miranda failed to file the correct forms with complete information to the IRS, he failed to properly report his income and therefore failed to establish his wages for purposes of calculating an AWW.
The judge of compensation claims rejected this argument, and awarded temporary total disability benefits.
The appellate judges concluded that Miranda was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits despite the allegation that his tax return may have had some technical flaws. The court based this upon another Jan. 25, 2010, decision, which is named Rene Stone Work Corp. v. Gonzalez.
In that decision, the court concluded that an employee simply needs to report his or her income to the IRS to become entitled to benefits, and rejected arguments that the tax return needs to be technically precise.
Source: WorkCompCentral

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