Coping After an Accident at Work: A Guide for Migrants


Being a migrant worker in the US can be a complex position to be in. On one hand you have a wide range of career options thanks to the diverse and prosperous industries, but you are also in the precarious position of working in a country where you are not a citizen. If you become injured during your work, you are far from home, your family, and friends, and possibly unable to fully understand the language of the people providing your care. All employers in the US are legally required to offer workers’ compensation. If you have been injured after an accident in the workplace, this guide will outline what you should do next to ensure you get the medical, legal, and financial support you are entitled to.

Report the accident

Your first task is to ensure that the accident – however minor – has been reported and formally recorded as soon as possible. If the accident is not reported within a certain timeframe, you may not be entitled to receive compensation. In fact, even if you are not injured in an accident, it is still worth reporting the incident as your employer may be able to make changes to prevent someone else from being injured in the future. Reporting the incident also protects you should your injuries or symptoms not become apparent until later.

Report your injuries

While some would assume that reporting the accident is the same as reporting injuries, this is not the case. Do not assume that your employer is aware that you have been hurt or that they have a record of it. The employer is responsible for filing a claim for workers’ compensation with their insurance provider, but you are entitled to have a copy of the claim so be sure to follow up with them.

Seek medical attention

If your injuries are severe then it is likely that you will have received some emergency treatment. However, even if you do not feel that you are seriously hurt, you should still visit a doctor to be checked over and get a medical report outlining the accident and resulting injuries. Some employers will ask you to visit a particular doctor, but this does not stop you from also seeing another doctor for a second opinion. In fact, some workers’ compensation policies will cover the cost of you getting a second opinion.

If you are seriously injured, you may want/need to be returned to your home country so you can receive the long-term care and rehabilitation you need with the support of family and friends. For example, Mexican people working in the US can access Allista Chronic Care Solutions which repatriates severely injured migrant workers and their families.

Legal action

Because almost all US states require employers to offer workers’ compensation by law, it is usually not possible to sue an employer after an injury at work, although there are some exceptions to this. This has an upside as it means that employees can be compensated regardless of whether they or the employer were negligent. However, if your employer can prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will not be covered by workers’ compensation. This is one of the reasons why some workplaces require employees to undergo regular drug testing.