In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, the employee must demonstrate that he or she is an “employee” of the employer. The State Board will evaluate whether there is a valid employment relationship for the purposes of work comp benefits. The State Board is directed to construe this relationship liberally.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 65% of undocumented immigrants are gainfully employed and pay applicable taxes. Many of these of these workers are told that if they are injured on the job, they would not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This is not true. The Georgia Courts have held that undocumented employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits despite their immigration status. Dynasty Sample Co. v. Beltran, 224 Ga. App. 90 (1996). In the Dynasty Sample case, an undocumented worker suffered a clear occupational injury. However, he misrepresented his immigration status to the employer who then argued that the “employment contract” was void. The Court found that this misrepresentation did not bar the injured worker from receiving work comp benefits. See also, Continental Pet Technologies, Inc. v. Palacias, 269 Ga. App. 561 (2004).
Once the employment relationship is established, the injured worker has the burden of demonstrating that the injury arose out of and in the course of his or her employment. Therefore, the injured workers’ immigration status does not factor into whether the worker is entitled to medical or income workers’ compensation benefits under Georgia laws.
However, the employer may try to defend against the injured worker returning to his job, even once he is released to work by the doctor. They will often cite Martines v. Worley & Sons, 278 Ga. App. 628 (2006) as applicable law.
If you have been injured on the job in Georgia and find yourself in need of workers’ compensation benefits, please contact Ramos & Law for a free consultation.