Undocumented workers are considered employees under Nevada law and are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits such as:
- medical treatment
- temporary disability
- permanent disability
- death benefits for dependents
- mileage reimbursement
These benefits compensate an employee for an injury.
However, undocumented workers are not entitled to:
- vocational rehabilitation services
Vocational rehabilitation benefits are meant to return an injured worker to employment. But it is against federal law to employ an undocumented worker.
Since an undocumented worker cannot be employed in Nevada, he or she is not entitled to vocational rehabilitation.
A dependent of an undocumented worker is entitled to death benefits regardless of immigration status.
In this article, our Nevada workers’ compensation attorneys will explain:
- 1. Undocumented workers can obtain most Nevada workers’ compensation benefits
- 2. Undocumented injured workers are not entitled to vocational rehabilitation
- 3. Special situations for death benefits
- 4. The goal of the workers’ compensation benefit is important for undocumented workers
An employee is a person in the service of an employer whether lawfully or unlawfully employed.1
It includes people who are injured at work in Nevada regardless of immigration status.2
Benefits that provide medical treatment and monetary compensation are paid to injured workers. This includes temporary disability, permanent disability, death benefits, and mileage reimbursement.
An undocumented worker obtains benefits by filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Example: Sara is an undocumented worker who is employed as a hotel maid. She injures her shoulder at work.
Sara is entitled to medical treatment, disability benefits, and mileage reimbursement even though she is undocumented.
Vocational rehabilitation helps an injured worker return to work within his or her limitation after an injury.
An insurer shall adhere to the following priorities in returning an injured employee to work:
- Return the injured employee to the job he or she had before his or her injury.
- Return the injured employee to a job with the employer the injured employee worked for before his or her accident that accommodates any limitation imposed by the injury.
- Return the injured employee to employment with another employer in a job that uses the injured employee’s existing skills.
- Provide training for the injured employee while the injured employee is working in another vocation.
- Provide formal training or education for the injured employee in another vocation.3
However, since it is against federal law to employ an undocumented worker, the injured worker is not eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.4
Example: Angel injured his back on the job while working for a drywall company. He is found to have 10% permanent disability and is restricted from lifting more than fifty pounds.
His employer doesn’t have work for him within that restriction. Angel requests vocational rehabilitation.
Because Angel cannot certify that he is eligible to work in the United States on his I-9 Form, he is not entitled to vocational rehabilitation.5
There is no obligation for a workers’ compensation insurance company to provide vocational rehabilitation services so that an undocumented injured worker can work legally outside the United States.6 7
An undocumented worker who dies due to a work injury is entitled to have death benefits provided to his or her dependents. The dependents do not have to live in the United States.8
Example: Brianna is killed in a work injury. She is an undocumented worker. Her husband Julio lives in Mexico.
Julio is Brianna’s dependent and is entitled to the death benefit.
Settlement or appeal of an undocumented worker’s claim
An undocumented worker has the same rights as any other worker to settle or appeal his or her claim.
An employer that intentionally or unknowingly hires an undocumented worker obtains the benefits of that worker’s labor. It must also pay the majority of workers’ compensation benefits when that worker is injured.
However, federal law prohibits employing undocumented workers. Once that fact becomes known, rehabilitation benefits cannot be provided due to the inability to return the worker to employment in Nevada.
Call us for help…
If you or someone you care about was injured at work in Nevada, our Las Vegas workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to get you compensation. (For California cases, please see our page on undocumented immigrants and workers compensation in California.)
For a free consultation to discuss your case simply fill out the form below or call us.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616A.105.
- Tarango v. State Indus. Ins. Sys., 117 Nev. 444, 25 P.3d 175, 2001 Nev. LEXIS 39, 117 Nev. Adv. Rep. 40, 178.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.530.
- Tarango, supra at p. 180.
- See Tarango, supra, and 2001 Nev. LEXIS 39, supra.
- Tarango, supra at. p. 181.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.505.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. § 616C.210.