The bottom line is that it does not matter if you are a citizen of the United States or if you are an illegal immigrant. You still have rights to obtain your Workers’ Compensation benefits and you also have the right to sue a “third-party” to obtain compensation for your injuries.
It also does not matter if you were working in what is known as, “off the books”, you can still receive Workers’ Compensation benefits and you also have the right to sue a “third-party” to obtain compensation for your injuries. Workers’ Compensation deals with persons getting hurt on the job. It doesn’t matter whether they are working on the books or off the books; you just have to prove that you were working when you were injured.
If you were injured while at work the law in New York is that you cannot sue your employer or co-employee claiming that they caused your injury as the Workers’ Compensation Law applies. It is a New York State law. However, you may sue others, who are then called “third-parties”, who may be held to be legally responsible for causing your injury. For example, if you are a delivery person who was making a delivery and you fell over a broken step, a box, a broken driveway, etc., you can sue the homeowner or the business to whom you were making the delivery.
A “third-party” is someone other than your employer who may be held responsible for causing your injury. This may be the owner of the building or the owner of the land or it may be the general contractor or a sub-contractor or the seller, manufacturer or lessor of a machine or other device.
If you are hired for a job that is particularly susceptible to being injured, such as on a construction job, if you fell off of a ladder or a scaffold while working at a construction site, under a specific section of the New York State Labor Law, §240, you can sue not only the owner of the building but also the owner of the land. If you are working for a subcontractor on a construction job you may be able to sue the general contractor and/or a different sub-contractor as well as the owner of the building or land.
For example, if, as a construction worker, you are given a tool such as a drill, saw, grinder, or other piece of equipment, which is missing a safety guard or is otherwise defective, the owner of the land and the general contractor may be held responsible under §241(6) of the New York State Labor Law if you were injured while using the defective equipment.
What you need to understand is that if you are hurt on the job, in addition to your rights to obtain your Workers’ Compensation benefits, if you believe your injury is the fault of a third-party, you also have a right to sue that party for your past and future pain and suffering, your lost wages and loss of future earnings capacity as well as for your past and future medical bills.
Remember, it does not matter if you are a citizen of the United States or if you are an illegal immigrant or if you were working “off the books” and being paid in cash and never filed or paid taxes.