Can I hire a personal injury lawyer if I am an undocumented immigrant in Texas?
CALL (800) 863-5312 to talk to Texas immigrant injury lawyers today
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 Texas immigrant injury lawyers now.
Of course, a workplace that falls short of OSHA compliance is not the only way that you could receive a personal injury. You could be the victim of a car crash, a preventable slip and fall at a public place, or even of someone’s intentional actions that cause you injury.
If you or a loved one who is undocumented in Texas has been injured, speak with a Texas personal injury lawyer at (800) 863-5312. A Zinda Law Group personal injury lawyer will listen and give you a free case evaluation.
What is an undocumented immigrant?
An undocumented immigrant in the United States is someone who was born in a different country and now lives in the United States without the legal right to live there. Now, that is not to say that a person who is illegally in the United States does not have any legal rights. We will discuss your rights as an undocumented individual later in this article.
Illegal immigration occurs when a person moves to another country in a way that is against the laws of that country. This can happen when your work or study visa expires, and you continue to remain in the country, or when you cross the border illegally. There is the possibility that someone who immigrates illegally could be deported and fined. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates cases of illegal immigration and performs its duties to uphold U.S. immigration laws.
The percentage of unauthorized immigrants in the United States peaked in 2007 and has been slowly declining ever since. However, Texas is one of six states that altogether account for 57% of all undocumented people. Many unauthorized individuals work and pay states’ taxes without reaping the benefits of the states’ welfare systems.
Unauthorized immigration is markedly different from criminal immigration. While unauthorized immigration breaks civil law, criminal immigration is punishable potentially by jail time, sanctions, and deportation.
Criminal immigration happens when someone has not received approval from an immigration officer before entering or re-entering the United States. This is a misdemeanor if it is the first offense for that person. On the other hand, someone who has been deported and re-enters without approval commits a federal offense. An undocumented person convicted of murder, rape, forgery, kidnapping, or domestic violence can be deported immediately.
The evolution of undocumented immigrant case law in texas
From the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to the proposed wall along the border between the United States and Mexico, many factors have affected immigration to the U.S. in recent history. Texas’s laws in particular have evolved to recognize the human dignity of each person regardless of immigration status or citizenship.
The following three cases originated in Texas and have helped the law change to allow those who are undocumented to sue for personal injuries in the United States. Although the matter of immigration status in the first two cases does not relate directly to personal injury, these cases address other important issues that laid the groundwork for the final case.
Plyler v. Doe (1982)
In this case, students who could not prove they were residing in the United States legally risked being denied the opportunity to be educated in Texas. One Texas school district—conforming with the law of Texas—required students to pay tuition if they were not documented United States residents.
The case was appealed twice and came before the Supreme Court, which ruled that the school district’s policy was unconstitutional because undocumented interests deserved protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court also ruled that the Texas law harmed a group of students without fulfilling a compelling state interest. This case shows that even though undocumented people might not have all of the same rights as those who are documented, they are still protected under the Constitution in certain situations, including when it comes to the education of children.
TXI Transportation v. Hughes (2010)
In this case, the Supreme Court of Texas had to decide whether admitting the illegal status of an immigrant party to the case constituted a harmful error. The plaintiff in this case was a truck driver who was an undocumented person who misrepresented his immigration status in order to get his job and commercial driver’s license.
Attorneys once 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. The Texas Supreme Court disagreed here, showing that admitting immigration status into evidence can bring out prejudices that undermine the fairness the legal system aims to accomplish.
Grocers Supply v. Cabello (2012)
This case involved a traffic accident, and the question of whether an unauthorized immigrant can recover for a personal injury finally came up directly. First, all of the parties in this case were undocumented immigrants. Also, the Fifth Circuit Court in Dallas had to follow the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) along with several previous Supreme Court decisions in its holding for this case.
Grocers Supply argued that any damages awarded that related to the parties’ work were preempted by the IRCA. The Fifth Circuit pointed out that the IRCA never explicitly stated that undocumented individuals cannot recover wage-related damages for personal injury cases and that Congress did not intend for the IRCA to preclude such individuals for recovering those damages.
Since it is optional for employers in Texas to have workers compensation, this means that employers can be sued by their undocumented employees for injuries sustained while working. More broadly, it means that unauthorized people can recover damages for injuries they receive in the United States.
What are the rights of injured undocumented immigrants in the U.S.?
As the victim of a personal injury in Texas, you could be entitled to compensation. Do not be deterred by anyone who tells you that your immigration status precludes you from recovery. You have a right to file a claim against the person or company that hurt you.
To recap the above court decisions that are all binding and therefore part of Texas law:
- You are protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.
- Your immigration status is not admissible at trial or in any other proceedings throughout the case.
- You may sue and receive compensation against someone who caused your injury.
Do I need to find an experienced personal injury lawyer near me?
To sue in Texas, you will need to state a claim upon a basis of law or fact. A personal injury lawyer can help you with any variety of tort cases, including intentional torts, negligence, and workers’ compensation (if your Texas employer has not waived its ability to offer workers’ compensation).
Intentional torts are the affirmative actions that someone intentionally takes to harm you. A person’s intent to commit these acts against you can be either general or specific.
In a negligence case, you must prove 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 or proximately caused by the other party’s breach.
If you are injured at work and your employer has workers’ compensation, then you probably cannot sue your employer. However, your employer will offer different payouts based on the category and severity of your injury. You might need an attorney to help with this if your employer is not giving you the compensation you deserve.
Call a Texas 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. Texas law allows a personal injury victim 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 (800) 863-5312 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.