Recently, a man in Louisiana went from living the American immigrant dream to the modern American immigrant nightmare. According to CBS News, he had arrived from Honduras and landed a construction job working on a big new hotel project in New Orleans. Then, after a building collapse injured D.R.P., ICE picked him up and deported him back to Honduras.
In New York City, where hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants work every day, many of them in construction, D.R.P.’s scenario is their biggest fear. They worry, among other things, that if they are injured at their construction jobs, they must choose between pursuing the financial compensation their families need or remaining in this country (and avoiding deportation.) The reality is that, as an undocumented worker, your options are not that narrow, or that bleak. By working with a knowledgeable New York City construction accident attorney, you may be able to get the compensation you deserve and also continue to remain in this country.
According to the news report, D.R.P. worked framing windows in the hotel. He used a laser level a lot, so he was able to detect that the building was tilting just by doing his everyday work. Eventually, the building collapsed and D.R.P., who was working on an upper floor, fell several stories, suffering substantial injuries.
NY says that undocumented workers have the same rights
If you’re an undocumented immigrant working in construction in New York and you are injured as a result of a fall or a falling object hitting you, you may be able to obtain significant compensation. Your right to pursue and receive an award of damages in a civil lawsuit is not diminished or altered in any way by the fact that you are an undocumented worker.
Back in 2006, the highest court in New York, ruled that a worker’s undocumented status did not prevent him from pursuing his case under some of the laws that protect injured construction workers (Sections 240(1) and 241(6) of the New York Labor Laws) and did not prevent him from the full array of damages available. That meant that, even though undocumented, the worker could recover damages for past and future lost earnings.
Additionally, while the defense may be entitled to discover your immigration status in the pre-trial process, the discovery of that information may have no impact on your case.
Back in 2017, an undocumented worker was hurt at his construction job when an unsecured ladder upon which he was standing shifted and caused him to fall. In that case, the worker was not only undocumented, he also “had failed to pay taxes and had used a coworker’s name to obtain health insurance.” The Appellate Division court ruled in that man’s case that his non-payment of taxes, his use of another man’s name and his undocumented status had absolutely nothing to do with the relevant facts of the case, which focused only of the ladder, the movement of the ladder and the worker’s fall.
If you are an undocumented worker and you are hurt while working at your construction job, you may be in terrible fear of being immediately deported if you take any action, like suing for damages or filing a claim for workers’ compensation. You may hold that fear because someone in authority at your job site (or with your employer) flat-out told you they’d get you deported if you spoke up and took any action.
Don’t listen to them! Instead, reach out to the compassionate and diligent New York City construction accident attorneys at Arcia & Associates for the legal representation you need. You have the same rights as documented immigrants and U.S. citizens when you’re hurt at work, and our team has many years helping injured workers, included people who are not documented, to get the compensation they genuinely deserve. Contact us at (718) 651-4363 today.