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Can Undocumented Immigrants File Accident Claims?

accident lawyer

Traversing the legal landscape can be difficult for the average person. It is even more so for those who live as undocumented immigrants. These immigrants typically shy away from vindicating their legal rights out of fear or apprehensiveness. However, this does not have to be the case. People in undocumented status mostly have the same opportunities as any citizen when it comes to taking legal action. For example, undocumented immigrants who are injured in a car accident have the right to sue the other party just like anyone else. Undocumented people in California should not think twice about asserting their legal rights to seek compensation for accident related injuries.

Erasing Fear: AB 2159 and Section 351.2

Previously, immigrants had a justified fear when participating in a lawsuit. Under former case law a person’s immigration status was an admissible piece of evidence in a personal injury case. A 1986 case decided by the California Court of Appeals, Rodriguez v. Kline, held that an undocumented plaintiff did not have the right to recover future lost wages based on their wages in the U.S. Rather, these plaintiffs could only be compensated at the applicable pay rate in their country of origin. The effect of this case was to reduce or eliminate a recovery for the plaintiff. It also brought up the plaintiff’s immigration status in a public forum which put them at risk for removal proceedings.

Fortunately, Rodriguez v. Kline was nullified by a restructuring of the California Evidence Code. In 2016, the governor signed AB 2159 into law. This law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2017, excludes evidence of a person’s immigration status in a civil case. Due to this, immigrants without documentation no longer have to worry about exposing their immigration status when filing a lawsuit. Your accident attorney will ensure that your status is not divulged in accordance with the law.

Immigration Status Is Not Relevant In An Injury Claim

Over the years many unscrupulous defendants have tried to use a person’s undocumented status to shield liability. In the 2003 case, Hernandez v. Paicius, the court found that the plaintiff’s undocumented status was not relevant to the outcome of the personal injury claim. For years, the Hernandez case stood for the proposition that immigration status is generally inadmissible in a civil case. Several other California court decisions support this concept and grant undocumented people the same rights as other litigants.

Filing A Lawsuit Does Not Equal Deportation

Many undocumented immigrants believe that filing a lawsuit will alert immigration officials. This is not true. The current state of law in California means that a person’s immigration status will not be discussed in court. Furthermore, it is illegal for the other party (or their accident attorney) to dissuade an immigrant from filing suit by threatening to inform DHS officials. The fear of deportation is unfounded.

Car Accident Injuries Deserve Compensation

Undocumented immigrants live, work and participate in society just like everyone else. Therefore, they deserve the same amount of redress for injuries suffered in car accidents. Most auto accidents cause serious injuries that can affect your life for years to come. Thus, as an undocumented immigrant, it is important to seek a sufficient amount of compensation to help you resume your life as normally as possible. An accident lawyer can help you with the process to make sure all of your rights are protected.

If you have further questions about filing a car accident lawsuit talk to an accident lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced accident attorney will evaluate your claim and help you determine if you have a potential recovery. Personal injury lawsuits in California must be filed within three years of the incident. Don’t let time slip away. It is important to begin working on your case right away to have the best chance at a successful outcome.

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