A person’s immigration status in the U.S. can sometimes make legal matters confusing to navigate. Some may be worried about seeking a personal injury claim due to not wanting to handle the potentially grueling process to then receive a low reward. Unfortunately, injuries can happen at any time. Serious injury can happen in day to day life, in the workplace, or in public--there are many possibilities. Personal injury cases are commonplace. If someone is injured due to the negligence of others or the duty of care owed to them was breached, they have a right to seek compensation.
Contrary to what some may have been lead to believe, anyone, whether they have a documented (i.e. legal) presence in the United States or not, can pursue a personal injury case the same way anyone else can. Their status as an immigrant does not affect the process in which they go through to file a claim and seek compensation. The Supreme Court has ruled that anyone in the U.S. has a right to due process, no matter their reason for being in the country.
“The last thing someone needs after suffering a major injury is to have to defend their right to compensation due to their immigration status,” says Attorney Marc Karlin of Karlin & Karlin. “If you have been injured due to someone’s negligence, you deserve compensation, regardless of your documentation.”
Personal Injury with Undocumented Status
Those with an undocumented status have the same right to access the legal systems and seek relief from a personal injury, as any other person does. The way an attorney might go about handling a case can differ with sensitivity to the plaintiff’s documentation status. This depends on the facts of the case and if the negligent party is aware of the plaintiff’s status, they may try to use it in the proceedings.
Furthermore, lawsuits are public matters, so the plaintiff may have concerns about filing publicly and risk the other party’s insurance investigating their documentation status. These are all concerns that can be communicated to the attorney upon the first meetings to help determine how to proceed. A personal injury attorney will listen to the plaintiff’s concerns and try to formulate a plan for handling the case to best put them at ease.
Damages for Undocumented Status
While someone with an undocumented status can pursue damages and compensation for an injury, the type of damages awarded may be different. Damages such as pain and suffering and medical costs can be awarded as they would in any other case. When it comes to future or current wage loss, further analysis into their job and whether or not they can “legally work” would be required..This could result in the plaintiff receiving less compensation for lost wages as a whole. However, all other compensation will be sought after in the same manner as any other case and there is potential for a good sum to still be awarded.
One’s citizenship or immigration status does not change the fact that they are owed compensation, even if the negligent party and their attorney try to pay someone less based on their status. In order to challenge this, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney who can help a plaintiff navigate their case. Having a good personal injury lawyer is a way to protect a person’s right to compensation and to find a path forward after a serious injury.