In August 2008, David Guiterrez’s foot was run over by a forklift while working at the packing house of Omaha based Quality Pork International. The accident left him with injuries that prevented him from being physically able to work. However, he was legally unable to hold a job at the meat plant because he was an illegal immigrant. Guiterrez was actually Ricardo Moyera, who assumed a false name in a bid to purchase documents illegally that would help him gain employment at the meat plant in March 2007.

Wanted job so badly the victim submitted false paperwork

According to Omaha Nebraska workers compensation attorneys, the case went all the way to the Nebraska Supreme Court. During the trial, Quality Pork International argued that they were not liable to pay an estimated $2 million to cover expenses such as lost wages and medical bills over Moyera’s lifetime. Would he even have made close to this amount if he continued working? That is a question many people would like to know.

Illegal immigrants protected under workers’ comp laws

In January 2013, the Nebraska Supreme Court, for the first time, ruled that illegal immigrants could seek protection under Nebraska’s workers’ compensation laws.

The Supreme Court ruled in Moyera’s favor, citing that he was entitled to workers’ compensation from his employer for the injuries he sustained while on the job. Omaha Nebraska workers compensation attorneys say that the decision was based and expanded on a similar ruling in 2009 by the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Illegal immigrants paid more in America

The January 2013 judgment written by Judge William Connolly was in line with many other courts decisions across the country. The judge noted that the courts were of the opinion that denying disability benefits to illegal immigrants would prompt many employers to hire illegal immigrants and save on insurance costs, which would give them an advantage over other law abiding competitors.

Moyera’s Omaha Nebraska workers compensation lawyer said that the issue was a contentious one for years and it was the first time that a decision was taken in favor of the employee. He said that many of his clients were Spanish-speaking immigrants from various countries including Mexico and Cuba.

They were most vulnerable to serious injuries since they were compelled to engage in dangerous jobs because they do not speak English nor do they bring with them any valuable skills. In addition, this work pays much more than similar positions based in their native countries and that is why they choose to stay.

Big money for an injury

Since workers’ compensation benefits were funded by employers who were required to possess workers’ compensation insurance, there was no tax payers’ money involved in Moyera’s case. During the trial, Moyera’s attorney had also argued that the ruling could help save tax dollars since the company was liable to pay, which prevented his client from seeking indigent healthcare. But critics point out that higher costs of doing business will just be passed on to customers or the business will just higher fewer employees.

Moyera, a father of three children born in the US, was 29 when the forklift accident left him with several broken bones in the foot, which led to a painful nerve disorder known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. An expert concluded that with additional back and hip pain, Moyera had lost the ability to continue any gainful employment.

His benefits included over $300 per week for lost wages for his estimated life expectancy in addition to 987 per month for pain medication. Also included was $2,000 per year for other related medical expenses. These benefits are far more than what Moyera would have received in his native country.