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Effects of an Undocumented Worker’s Status on a Personal Injury Claim

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

While undocumented immigrants may be worried about how their status may impact personal injury claims, these individuals still have rights and can pursue a claim if negligence caused their injuries. Most courts across the U.S. enable undocumented immigrants to take legal action in the event of an injury if another party was at fault.

When a Personal Injury Claimant Is an Undocumented Immigrant

In personal injury cases, immigrant status generally won’t play a role at any point. Whether the injured party is a documented citizen with a legal visa, documented non-citizen, or an undocumented immigrant, injury victims have the right to pursue compensation.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, due process protections are in place for every individual in the country, regardless of immigrant status. As a result, undocumented immigrants are allowed to file insurance claims against negligent parties in personal injury cases, or even file a lawsuit if necessary.

Potential Limitations for Undocumented Immigrants

Although undocumented immigrants are able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit, individuals may be wary about allowing opposing legal teams to investigate them, or publicly file a lawsuit. However, most personal injury cases don’t go beyond the claims process, and a claimant’s attorney may be able to provide advice about how to proceed with a potential lawsuit.

In many cases, the claimant’s undocumented status may affect certain damages involved in the case. For instance, if a case accounts for lost wages that are inevitable in the near future following an accident, it may be necessary to determine the length of time the individual intends to stay in the country. The individual’s ability to continue working may also be at stake, further affecting those damages. On the other hand, victims’ pain and suffering, hospital bills, treatment expenses, and other damages will remain largely unaffected.

It’s also important to keep in mind that opposing attorneys and insurers may attempt to reason that an undocumented immigrant is entitled to less compensation, especially in cases involving a trial process. The upside is that these attempts are often futile, and attorneys for claimants may be able to help prevent opposing parties from learning about the claimant’s immigration status.

Why It’s Important to File a Claim Regardless of Immigrant Status

Oftentimes, when another individual’s negligence results in injuries, victims are eager to file a claim against the negligent party or parties. Undocumented immigrants may be more hesitant to file a claim, fearing that taking legal action may expose an undocumented status and lead to serious repercussions, including deportation.

Out of fear of taking action, some injury victims may not file a claim or pursue any other action against liable parties, which can put them at risk in other ways, such as:

  • Preventing injury victims from being able to afford the treatment needed to make a full recovery
  • Keeping injury victims from being able to return to work and earn a living wage
  • Leaving the liable parties free of accountability, which may lead to repeat instances of negligence

Failing to take action could also make it harder to afford other potential costs, such as expenses involved when getting divorced or if adopted children need financial support.

The Types of Damages Available to Claimants

Both economical and non-economical damages are recoverable in many cases. Some economical damages may include medical expenses, lost wages resulting from time taken to recover, and property damage. Meanwhile, non-economical damages could include pain and suffering resulting from injuries.

If injury victims are worried about how immigration status may affect a case, they can and should still pursue legal action against the parties responsible. Like any other injury victim, undocumented immigrants have certain legal rights and may be able to recover compensation for any damages sustained because of another person’s carelessness.

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