Santiago Arias learned the hard way about how Texas workers’ compensation unfairly treats employees. In 2006, he fell over 20 feet while working on a job site in Houston.
The construction company he worked for did not have any safety measures in place. Arias, who was an undocumented immigrant at the time, is now paralyzed from the chest down and has not been adequately compensated for his lifelong injuries.
Unfortunately, contractors in Texas are notorious for taking advantage of undocumented workers. Tara Amavi, a Houston workplace safety consultant, said that these types of employers are able to “kill them, maim them, blind them and dump them, and then go down and pick up a few more on the next corner.”
Texas does not require the use of its state-based workers’ compensation coverage or any private coverage. Moreover, the injuries that an undocumented worker sustains on the job tend to go unreported. These workers are continually working in dangerous situations, and there are never any changes made for safety.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is vastly understaffed in the state of Texas. There is one OSHA inspector for every 104,000 Texas workers. This means OSHA inspections are rare, which can allow employers to continue operating in a dangerous manner.
The Texas Tribune says, “It takes more than a single catastrophic accident, or even two, to prompt a mandatory OSHA probe.”
By law, businesses are required to report accidents that result in a fatality or cause serious injury to three or more workers, but, as mentioned before, employers generally do not report incidents involving undocumented workers.
Can Non-Legal Residents Receive Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Undocumented workers can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on a job. The Law Offices of Aaron Allison encourages anyone, regardless of their legal status, to contact an attorney if they have been injured and need help getting compensation.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Workers’ Compensation Attorney