It is a surprise to most undocumented workers in Nevada that they have almost as many rights as documented employees and U.S. citizens under Nevada’s workers compensation system. Many injured workers without proper documentation worry about deportation or not having a job to go back to when they are done getting medical care. They think that their employer will be at risk of heavy fines by ICE officials for hiring illegal employees. However, what usually happens is that ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) doesn’t get involved.
The only group of benefits that are not available to illegal workers are vocational rehabilitation services and benefits. When an injured worker is finally released from medical care for his injury, if his doctor gives the worker permanent work restrictions, the employer may not have work that can accommodate the restrictions. If the worker were legal, he would then get bi-weekly checks while he either participates in a job retraining program or elects a vocational settlement. However, if the worker is illegal, the bi-weekly checks end, and the claim is closed.
The illegal worker needs to file a workers’ comp claim like his legal co-workers so that he can get medical care, bi-weekly checks if he is out of work, and a permanent partial disability award for a serious, permanent injury. If the illegal worker does not file a claim, he giving up getting free medical care and settlement money.