Massachusetts Court Discusses Immigration Status in Workers’ Compensation Claims

People who suffer injuries in workplace accidents can often recover benefits pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). While the Act typically prohibits them from pursuing civil actions against their employers for their injuries, they may be able to recover damages from third parties. Notably, employees have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits and redress in tort actions against third parties regardless of their immigration status in this Country, as explained in a recent Massachusetts case. If you were hurt in an accident while working, it is in your best interest to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your rights as soon as possible.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries when he fell from a ladder while working on the roof of a three-story residential building. Specifically, he suffered fractures to the skull, dissection of the vertebral artery, hematomas of the brain, and other harm. Due to the severity of his injuries, he was unable to work. He subsequently sought and received workers’ compensation benefits from his employer’s insurer.

It is reported that the plaintiff then filed tort claims against numerous defendants, alleging their negligence brought about his harm. During a deposition, the defense attorney asked the plaintiff about his immigration status. The plaintiff declined to answer, and the defendants then moved to compel him to submit to questioning about his immigration status.

Immigration Status in the Context of Workers’ Compensation Claims

The court explained that pursuant to the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, parties may obtain discovery on any issue that is relevant to the subject action, whether it relates to the claim or defense, as long as it is not privileged. In the subject case, it ultimately denied the defendant’s motion on the grounds that information regarding the plaintiff’s immigration status was not relevant to his claims.

The defendants asserted that the issue of the plaintiff’s immigration status was relevant because if he could not lawfully work in this country, he could not maintain a claim for lost wages. The court rejected this argument, noting that it was well-established under Massachusetts law that undocumented workers have the right to seek compensation for their personal injuries via tort claims. Further, employees are not precluded from pursuing workers’ compensation claims if they are injured on the job, despite the fact that they may have feigned their immigration status in order to find employment.

Meet with a Skilled Massachusetts Attorney

Employers will often go to great lengths to avoid paying employees the workers’ compensation benefits they are owed, but Massachusetts law protects the rights of injured employees. If you were hurt in a work accident, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and you should meet with an attorney. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney with ample experience handling complex cases, and if he represents you, he will diligently pursue any benefits you may be owed. You can contact Mr. Meehan to set up a meeting by using the form online or by calling him at 508-822-6600.