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Workers Compensation Insurance and illegal immigrants

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Denial of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage to Illegal Immigrants:

Several states have considered bills that would deny workers compensation benefits to illegal aliens who are injured on the job.  Federal law prohibits knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.  However, once hired, most states do provide workers compensation benefits without regard to immigration status.  Most courts have held that such workers are entitled to benefits once injured.

In general, insurance companies oppose denying benefits to illegal aliens. 1) They generally feel it runs counter to public policy. Workers compensation laws serve a humanitarian purpose. 2) Denial of benefits could encourage unscrupulous employers to seek out illegal aliens.  They might avoid the cost of workers compensation coverage and gain a marketplace advantage over their law-abiding competitors.  3)  The workers compensation’s exclusive remedy provision protects employers from lawsuits charging them with negligence in the workplace. Without this protection, when workers are injured, whether or not they are illegal aliens, employers are exposed to civil litigation.

This is a case of conflicting social policy.  It will be interesting to see the outcome of these laws.  But there will be years of litigation before the issue is resolved.

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