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In New York, anyone who has been injured on a construction worksite is entitled to bring an accident claim. Some employers may tell an injured worker that they do not have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit– but this is not true. If you were injured at work, you have the right to seek compensation regardless of your immigration status.

When you are worried about immigration status, filing a lawsuit can be stressful, but an experienced personal injury attorney can provide expert guidance and confidentiality.

Immigration status in the United States

Immigrants in America fall under three categories.

  • Undocumented –  People who either cross the border into the United States illegally, obtain a visa based on fraudulent statements, or overstay their temporary visas– are not authorized to work in the country.
  • Temporary – Students or tourists who are in the country with permission on a non-permanent basis may or may not be permitted to work in the U.S., depending on the type of visa granted.
  • Permanent or conditional – Legal permanent residents are referred to as green card holders and have permission to live and work in the United States permanently. Conditional residents are those who have been married for less than two years before receiving a green card. These individuals may later apply to remove conditional status and become legal permanent residents.

When it comes to workplace injuries, every person is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim or a civil lawsuit– regardless of their status.

State And Federal Laws Affecting Injured Worker Claims

New York, like most states, requires all employers to buy workers’ compensation insurance to cover all employees. However, federal law prohibits employers from hiring undocumented immigrants. Some states disagree on whether these individuals have a right to be protected– if injured on the job– but New York recognizes that right.

States like New York strive to protect all workers. The understanding is that when employers are not held responsible for insurance for undocumented workers, they have an economic incentive to hire them.

States that do not allow illegal immigrants to recover benefits show higher rates of workplace fatalities. Undocumented employees often work in the most dangerous settings– where legal residents would be more likely to report safety violations.

Rights of Undocumented Laborers in Construction Accidents

It’s estimated that nearly 50 percent of all construction laborers in NYC are without valid green cards. New York affords the same rights and protections to undocumented workers as those who are legal. Whether they are working as a general tradesman, doing demolition, or working other high-risk jobs, their undocumented status does not prevent them from seeking workers’ compensation benefits in the event of occupational injury.  

The unfortunate reality is that negligent contractors and builders often let undocumented laborers believe that they are excluded from these basic protections. Under NY law, employers are obligated to ensure that all of their construction workers – regardless of immigration status – are properly trained and given the tools and equipment to stay safe.  

Undocumented laborers are often pressured to take on some of the more dangerous jobs that unionized workers would decline. Afraid of being reported to immigration, these workers are at higher risk of accident and injury. 

If you are working in construction as an illegal immigrant and are injured on the job, our attorneys can help you seek benefits for lost wages, medical bills, and permanent or temporary disability. Don’t be intimidated by employers who threaten to fire you or report your immigration status. There are no negative repercussions for seeking the compensation to which you are legally entitled.  

The New York courts have ruled that labor laws apply to undocumented workers and non-citizens alike. This means you should report your injury to your employer and contact an attorney for legal representation. 

Our construction accident lawyers can help you fight for justice. Depending on the circumstances of your construction accident, this could be through a worker’s compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit. There is no need to prove negligence or fault to apply for worker’s comp benefits. This insurance is designed to cover: 

  • Medical care related to your occupational injury 
  • Up to two-thirds of your weekly wage, with limits 
  • Travel costs to and from doctor’s appointments 

Undocumented workers in the construction industry have rights, and the NYC attorneys at Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb & Green are here to help.  

It Is Never Too Soon To Speak With A Lawyer To Discuss Your Rights

No matter your immigration status, if you have been injured on the job in New York, it is never too soon to speak with a lawyer to discuss your rights. Your most likely source of benefits is workers’ compensation. This provides:

  • Lost wages at up to 2/3 of your average weekly rate up to the scheduled maximum benefit
  • Medical bills
  • Related costs such as the cost of prescriptions and rehabilitation
  • In the case of fatal accidents, funeral and burial expenses up to the policy’s limits

These benefits are often awarded relatively quickly and without the need to prove fault. However, they do not provide full compensation for serious injuries.

When someone other than the employer (or an employee for whom the employer would be vicariously liable) was at fault for the accident, you may have grounds to file a third-party lawsuit. Some examples of this include– other contractors on the site or someone making deliveries. In sum, if a third-party acts carelessly and causes your injury, you may sue them for full damages.

Benefits Of Speaking With A Personal Injury Lawyer

A third-party lawsuit can provide compensation for your total financial damages, as well as compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering. However, if your immigration status is in question, initiating a process in the courts is probably intimidating. The best thing you can do is speak with an NYC construction accident lawyer to determine whether your accident qualifies for a third-party lawsuit and whether it is the right move for you.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation: Hablamos Español

At Friedman, Levy, Goldfarb, Green & Bagley, P.C., our team understands the complexities of proving liability in a construction accident lawsuit. We are here to serve those in New York who have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


  1. Workers Compensation Coverage.
  2. New York City, Immigrant Workers Know Your Rights,