Nevada Supreme Court: Injured illegal worker entitled to benefits
The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that an illegal alien severely injured on the job is entitled to compensatory benefits from the company’s insurance provider.
“Nevada’s workers’ compensation statute clearly and unambiguously protects every person in the service of an employer, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, including aliens,” the opinion concludes. “Although federal law prohibits employers from knowingly employing an undocumented alien, it does not prohibit insurers from compensating undocumented aliens for injuries they sustain while working.”
The opinion says that the law bars illegal aliens from vocational training to become re-employable.
“However, we affirmed an award of permanent partial disability benefits to an undocumented alien,” they state, ruling that monetary benefits paid by the insurer, “do not conflict with federal law or undermine the Legislature’s intent.”
Manuel Ibanez was injured in 2014 while working as a carpenter. He was injured when a falling two-by-four struck him in the head, shoulder and back. He needed multiple surgeries but was still unable to work and applied for permanent total disability status. Associated Risk Management denied the application arguing the injuries were only temporary and that he would be employable if eligible to work in the U.S.
A hearing officer found Ibanez’s injuries directly caused by the accident and that his lack of status was “not relevant” to his request for permanent relief status.
The insurance company appealed, arguing an undocumented alien isn’t eligible for permanent disability. The district court agreed with the appeals officer and denied the judicial review.
The high court this week agreed with the district court.