Victor Leon Case Ties Illegal Immigration to Workers’ Comp Law

The case of a paralyzed worker is compromised by worker’s immigration status and compounded by his use of illicit drugs.

Being an illegal immigrant and getting hurt on the job proved a miserable combination for Victor Leon. He also compounded his predicament by using illicit drugs, although these substances almost certainly played no role in his workplace injury.

Leon was working on a construction project for Altec Roofing in Palm City when he fell off the roof of a three-story building. As a result of the accident, he was permanently paralyzed.

Prior to his unfortunate accident, he’d informed Altec about his illegal immigration status. Altec had even helped him to obtain a fraudulent social security number. But while he was accepted as a worker by the company, being accepted as “an injured worker” eligible for workers’ compensation was another matter. Still, he should still be eligible. Using a fake social security number to secure employment doesn’t mean that he has to forfeit workers’ compensation for an on-the-job accident. He would have had to make a false statement after being injured “for the purpose of securing workers’ compensation benefits” before the ultimate sanction of forfeiture may be imposed. So just because Leon is an illegal immigrant, he can’t forfeit his right to workers’ compensation benefits.

Unfortunately, Leon had another complication crop up. A post-accident drug test revealed the presence of cocaine and marijuana in his bloodstream. Section 440.9 (3) of Florida law states that workers’ compensation benefits for an otherwise compensable mishap are not payable if the injury “was occasioned primarily … by the influence of any drugs … not prescribed by a physician.” Section 440.9 (7) (b) creates a presumption that the injury was occasioned primarily by the drug when a post-accident test for drugs is positive.

Leon retained an expert who testified that the drugs in his bloodstream at the time of the accident did not actually impair him. But on bad advice, Leon decided to voluntarily dismiss a petition before the judge of compensation claims in favor of a little used estoppel argument. The outcome was a Florida circuit court granting Altec’s motion for summary judgment. Leon may eventually obtain a remedy at a workers’ compensation forum, but this is highly unlikely.

Tony Francis is an Orlando personal injury lawyer. His practice specializes in being an Orlando accident lawyer helping innocent victims get compensation for their losses. To learn more about Orlando injury lawyer, Orlando personal injury lawyer, Orlando accident lawyer, Orlando injury attorney, visit Francislawgroup.com.