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​Experienced ILLINOIS Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
& CHICAGO Injury Lawyers

Undocumented Workers’ Compensation Claims

Seasoned Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Many undocumented workers feel their position is precarious. Job-related injuries can exacerbate this. If you were injured on the job and are undocumented, you may be fearful about bringing a workers’ compensation claim. You may worry that the legal rights that apply to citizens will not apply in your case. You may also be concerned about the consequences of pursuing a claim. It’s crucial to retain a seasoned Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer who is familiar with these tricky issues and can fight for your rights. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we have over 60 years of experience representing clients in workers’ compensation claims of all kinds.

Undocumented Workers’ Compensation Claims in or around Chicago

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides that most employees in the state are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer injuries in a job-related accident. Workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault benefits. They may temporary total disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation assistance, and medical benefits. For example, if you reasonably need emergency care and surgery due to an accident at a factory, you may be able to obtain medical benefits to cover these.

In Illinois, undocumented workers are as entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when injured on the job as workers who are citizens. The court has determined that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if you are undocumented. Employers are barred from hiring undocumented workers under the Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986, regardless of their qualifications. It is illegal to hire an undocumented person knowingly, and if an employer finds out later that it unknowingly hired an undocumented person, it is supposed to terminate the worker. However, the IRCA doesn’t expressly preempt state laws allowing undocumented people injured on the job to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, employees should be compensated for injuries arising out of or in the scope of employment regardless of fault.

The IRCA addresses the hiring of undocumented people but does not expressly suggest that, in so doing, it was trying to supersede state laws that cover workers’ compensation benefits and other labor benefits. Among various benefits, for example, an award of permanent total disability benefits can be provided regardless of whether there has been an IRCA violation. While the IRCA was enacted to diminish the likelihood of immigration based on employment, it was not enacted because undocumented people would come to the country to get workers’ compensation benefits.

Odd Lot Category for Permanent Total Disability Benefits

Our Chicago lawyers can establish you are totally and permanently disabled as an undocumented worker by showing you fit into an odd-lot category. This requires us to show: (1) they underwent a diligent but unsuccessful job search or that (2) because of their training, education, experience, age, and condition, they cannot be involved in stable and continuous employment. If our attorneys show this, the burden will shift to your employer to show that other suitable work is regularly available to you.


As an undocumented worker, you may have valid concerns about asserting your right to workers’ compensation benefits because the assertion could impact your immigration status. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits retaliation against an employee for making a claim, and this protection extends to undocumented workers. Even so, you may face threats from your employer, who may have little concern for your injuries and may try to use your status to avoid a claim to their insurer. This possibility makes it especially important to talk to a seasoned Chicago workers’ compensation attorney about your claim.

Consult a Seasoned Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

When you are an undocumented worker with a workers’ compensation claim, you should seek legal counsel. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys represent clients in administrative claims, personal injury, and SSDI claims in Rockford, Champaign, Quincy, and Aurora, as well as Sangamon, Winnebago, Kane, Cook, and Adams Counties. Call us at 312-724-5846 or complete our online form.