Can I Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer If I Am An Undocumented Immigrant?Last updated on: September 5, 2022
Many immigrants are told that they have no rights in the United States if they are undocumented. Additionally, many undocumented immigrants work jobs that put them at a high risk of personal injury. When the negligence of an employer harms an employee, the employee should always have an opportunity to recover, regardless of documentation status. If you are an undocumented immigrant and have questions about whether you can bring a personal injury lawsuit, call immigrant injury lawyers now.
If you or a loved one who is undocumented has been injured, speak with a personal injury lawyer at (888) 988-7063. A Zinda Law Group personal injury lawyer will listen and give you a free case evaluation.
Undocumented Immigrants and Personal Injury Claims
Several states have begun passing legislation to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants involved in personal injuries. When the New York Court of Appeals decided in 2006 that an undocumented immigrant had the right to pursue a personal injury claim, many other states began releasing favorable court decisions and legislation for undocumented immigrants.
For example, attorneys in the past used the status of an undocumented immigrant to make the argument that that person was less truthful because of his or her status as illegal. In 2010, the Texas Supreme Court decided TXI Transportation v. Hughes.
In that case, the court disagreed with the practice of using an undocumented immigrant’s status as evidence of their untruthfulness. In fact, the court ruled that admitting the illegal status of an immigrant party to the case constituted a harmful error, since it could bring out prejudices that undermine the fairness the legal system aims to accomplish.
What To Consider Before Deciding to File or Not to File a Personal Injury Claim
To file your complaint, you will need to state a claim upon a basis of law or fact. For a personal injury case, you must show that the defendant is liable for your injuries and the cost of the damages you suffered because of the defendant.
Liability for Negligence
Any time you sue someone, you must show that the other person is liable for your injuries. If the other person could be held liable for your injuries, it means that you can legally show that the person is at fault for the injury. The most common type of personal injury case is negligence.
In a negligence case, you must show that the party that harmed you is liable for your injuries by proving the following elements:
- The party who harmed you owed you a legal duty of care.
- The party breached that duty.
- You suffered an injury for which you can be compensated.
- That injury was directly caused by the other party’s breach.
A legal duty of care arises when the other party should have prevented foreseeable harm. For example, drivers on the road should slow down when there is inclement weather and reduced visibility. If a driver fails to slow down, he or she has breached that legal duty of care by failing to prevent foreseeable harm.
To show a party’s liability for your negligence case, you must also prove that you received an injury for which you can be legally compensated. If someone sped past you recklessly on the road, you cannot personally sue that person unless he or she harmed you or your vehicle in some way. A physical injury normally meets this criterion.
Finally, you must have received the injury because of the other party’s breach of the duty of care. If you cannot link your injury to the other party, then your case will probably not succeed.
You can usually still sue if you were partially at fault for the accident. That is, if you contributed to the accident much less than the other party involved, then you could still recover for your injuries in proportion to the amount of fault you have to accept for the accident. For example, if you were 30% at fault for the accident and the other party was 70% at fault, you can still recover 70% of your damages for the accident.
Recovering Your Damages
“Damages” refers to the loss you experienced because of the other party’s wrongdoing. In personal injury cases, damages can be compensatory or punitive.
The two types of compensatory damages in personal injury cases are economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate you for the easily calculable, financial losses you experienced from the accident, such as missed wages from time off work, medical bills, and damage to your personal property. Non-economic damages compensate you for the pain and suffering from the accident, such as loss of enjoyment of life if your injury prevents you from doing the things you love or the emotional harm you experience from permanent disfigurement.
Courts award punitive damages to punish a defendant for especially serious acts and to deter others from acting similarly in the future. For example, a court might award punitive damages against an employer who hires undocumented immigrants in order to avoid paying health benefits.
What Happens if You Don’t File a Claim?
You probably already know that a successful legal claim could cover the expenses from your injury that you have incurred thus far, including the medical bills and damage to your personal property discussed above. However, there are other expenses that extend into the future that you might not anticipate while you are trying to keep current expenses under control.
Responsible for Future Medical Expenses
Sometimes injuries are more serious than they initially appear. For instance, you may have been in a car accident and only experienced whiplash and some minor bruises. As time goes on, you might learn that you have actually sustained a serious spinal injury.
An injury that does not appear to require much medical attention could end up costing time and money. You could miss out on your future medical expenses if you do not file a claim against the person who caused your injury.
Not Compensated for Lost Wages
You may not be able to anticipate how much time you will have to take off work because of your injury. If you must go into physical or occupational therapy or need surgery, you could end up needing more and more time to recuperate.
Additionally, your ability to work may have been permanently affected by the accident. In such instances, you can be compensated for the impact the injury had on your ability to generate income.
No More Opportunity to Sue
You cannot simply wait until you think the expenses associated with your injury have come to an end: Once the statute of limitations runs out, you can no longer sue for your injuries. The statute of limitations governs the amount of time you have from the date of the accident to sue for your injuries. Each state has its own statute of limitations for personal injuries, but they are typically around two years.
Workplace Injuries and Undocumented Workers
Undocumented workers make up much of the workforce in America. Almost one fourth of construction workers and around half of agricultural laborers are undocumented immigrants. These types of jobs are dangerous and can put workers at a higher risk of injury than other jobs.
For example, construction workers risk falling off of scaffolds or roofs or being struck by equipment. Agricultural laborers face risks associated with the weather and could also be struck by equipment or exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Often, employers hire undocumented workers to limit their costs. Employers probably do not pay any benefits such as health insurance for undocumented employees, and they probably do not pay into their worker’s compensation insurance.
Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance required of most employers in the United States. In exchange, workers cannot sue employers who carry the insurance for the injuries the workers sustain on the job. However, the employer will offer different payouts based on the category and severity of the employee’s injury.
If you are injured at work and your employer has workers’ compensation, then you probably cannot sue your employer. It is optional for employers in Texas to have workers compensation, which means that undocumented workers can sue their employers for injuries sustained while working.
Employers who attempt to take advantage of an undocumented immigrant’s status should not get away with their behavior. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you are still protected under the law for your personal injuries. Speak with an attorney if you were injured at work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Get Deported for Suing While Undocumented?
8 USC § 1227 lists the types of offenses or situations for which you may be deported. Notably absent from that list is filing a personal injury claim. It is illegal to deport someone for filing a claim after he or she has been injured in the United States.
In addition to the illegality of deporting someone for suing while undocumented, it also would create bad public policy. Imagine that employers hire undocumented immigrants and harbor unsafe working conditions while not offering worker’s compensation. Simply deporting such workers when accidents occur would allow the employer to continue to hire and harm its employees in an unending cycle.
How Do You Find a Personal Injury Lawyer?
You will want to begin your search for a lawyer by finding someone within the correct jurisdiction. State laws vary, and you will want an attorney licensed to practice in the correct state. The correct jurisdiction for you case can depend on where you and the defendant live and where the accident occurred.
In addition to finding a lawyer in the correct jurisdiction, look for someone with the right specialization. For example, a personal injury lawyer who regularly helps undocumented immigrants will likely be more qualified than a tax lawyer.
Our attorneys at Zinda Law Group have experience helping undocumented immigrants who have been victims of intentional acts, negligence, and work injuries. Let us see how we can help you recover for your injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney at Zinda Law Group
Anyone who has been injured through the fault of someone else deserves to recover under the law. Alternatively, anyone who acts carelessly or intentionally in a way that harms someone should have to pay for the damage. States allow undocumented personal injury victims to pursue compensation.
Whether you have experienced an intentional act, a negligent act, or an incident at work, you could recover for the expenses you incurred from your injury. Our personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group are ready to help you with your case. Call us at (888) 988-7063 to schedule your free consultation.
Do not let anyone tell you that you do not have the right to recover because you are an undocumented immigrant. Our attorneys want to hear from you. We have a No Win, No Fee Guarantee, so you will not pay us unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.