Can immigrants get workers' compensation in California?

Migrant and seasonal farmworkers are part of the backbone of California's economy -- and many of those workers are immigrants. While many states (about half) don't provide workers' compensation protection for seasonal agricultural workers, California does -- even to immigrants.

Here's what you need to know if you're an immigrant working in California:

You are entitled to compensation regardless of your immigration status

Whether you are a documented immigrant, an on-the-job injury entitles you to certain benefits through California's workers' comp. (You are not entitled to workers' comp, however, if the only reason you are unable to work is your immigration status.)

Your employer may not retaliate against you for filing a claim

Many immigrants -- regardless of their status -- are keenly aware of the power imbalance between themselves and their employers. Often, that will cause an injured worker to fear retaliation if they file a workers' comp claim -- but retaliation is illegal.

Depending on your injury, you may be eligible for medical treatment, disability payments and other supplemental benefits until you are able to return to your job. When your injuries are so severe that you cannot return to work, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits.

You do have to take modified work if it is available to you

Just like any other workers' comp beneficiary, you do have to take modified work -- if your employer chooses to make it available to you. Employers don't have to offer a modified or "light-duty" position to injured employees, but many do in the hopes of getting the injured employee back to work sooner.

If you're confused about your rights or are having trouble getting your workers' comp claim approved, it's smart to seek legal guidance from an experienced attorney.

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