Firm News

Are illegal aliens entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in New York?

Every employer and every employee is subject to the jurisdiction of the New York Workers Compensation Law if doing business in New York. There are some exceptions: for example, Federal employees and longshoreman are not covered by the Law. Under New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law, most individuals providing services to a for-profit business will be deemed an employee of that business and therefore must be covered by the employer for workers’ compensation insurance. This applies unless those services are specifically excluded as employment under the WCL.

What about resident aliens, illegal aliens, or undocumented workers?

Resident aliens.

Aliens who are in covered employment in New York can be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when injured in the course of that employment. Mizugami v. Sharin West Overseas, Inc., 599 N.Y.S.2d 480 (1993) and WCL §§ 16, 17.
Illegal aliens.

An illegal alien does not lose the right the right to benefits because of illegal or undocumented status. Further, awarding of benefits does not alter the immigration status of illegal aliens. The Law tries to be as neutral as possible towards illegal aliens so they do not supply employers with an incentive to hire illegal aliens – and then refuse to provide those workers with benefits when they are injured. Post v. Berger & Golhke, 216 N.Y. 544 (1916); Testa v. Sorrento Restaurant, Inc., 197 N.Y.S.2d 560 (3d Dep’t 1960).

Practical Advice on defending claims by illegal aliens.

Defending claims filed by illegal aliens is complicated by the lack of reliable identification. This hinders full and proper investigation of claims, as most medical records and accident reports (like CIB indexes) include references to date of birth and social security number information.

Download the New York Workers’ Compensation Law Handbook

Download Our New York Workers’ Compensation Law Handbook

The 2023 edition of Gregory Lois’ practical, up-to-date, and easy-to-understand guide to workers’ compensation claims in New York.

This book is designed for employers, attorneys, claim adjusters, physicians, self-insured employers and vocational rehabilitation workers.

Download Now

Learn More About New York Workers’ Compensation Defense at LOIS

We represent insurance carriers, self-insured employers, third party claim administrators, and employers before the New York State Workers' Compensation Board. We handle cases from cradle-to-grave. We want to be by your side, moving cases aggressively to closure from the start of litigation all the way through to settlement.

We only assign one attorney and one paralegal to each case. This means that your team members always have one contact to go to for any questions. We do not have 'hearing attorney' or a 'negotiation attorney' or 'appeal department' or anything else! All of our attorneys handle all of those roles – meaning cases are not 'passed around' as they move through the litigation process. Your risk professional or adjuster always knows who is assigned – because the attorney does not change.

Learn More

Get articles delivered to your inbox, once a month.

Subscribe Today!