Immigration Status FAQ
Will My Legal Status Affect My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
No. No questions may be asked about your legal status in a California personal injury law matter.
Can Undocumented Aliens Sue For Personal Injuries Or Wrongful Death?
YES. At least in a California state court. A great fear among many undocumented aliens living in the L.A. Hispanic communities, in particular, is whether or not they can or be sued for death or personal injuries. Here we will discuss why you should have no fear of hiring a lawyer to represent your personal injury matter.
What Do The Courts and Legislature Say About Your Immigration Status in a Personal Injury Case?
But AB 2159 went on to amend Section 351.2 of the California Evidence Code.
The new provision spells out:“In a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death, evidence of a person’s immigration status shall not be admitted into evidence, nor shall discovery into a person’s immigration status be permitted.”
Fear Of Deportation?
No. As discussed above, California state court personal injury and wrongful death cases don't allow questions about your status even come up. Depositions and other information from sources publicly available are what the insurance company uses to value things like a motorcycle accident with a brain injury, for example.
Litigation will usually not happen since an insurance settlement can normally be reached before a lawsuit is filed.
In any event, your immigration status is not part of the personal injury settlement process. So whether you're on TPS, applying for asylum, etc., it doesn't matter.
Right now, the news and political environment surrounding illegal, or "undocumented" aliens can be alarming to you if you snuck across the border for a better life. For example, there is a debate over giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses and their compliance with insurance regulations.
- People who sneak across our borders or overstay their Visas get free services here at U.S. and California taxpayer expense.
- And yes, many do pay some taxes.
But much of what they pay in sales taxes, etc., is subsumed by the:
- Free healthcare
- A free school for their kids
- Food stamps and government-paid cell phones, etc.
- Most illegals do not file federal or state income taxes according to at least one study.
So what does a person do when a loved one is injured, killed, or assaulted by an illegal immigrant?
Typically these illegals are from Mexico and have no assets of which to speak. Have they nothing to lose? To push back, an attorney specialized in both immigration law and personal injury/wrongful death law is a necessity.
But the fact of the matter is, whether or not California remains a sanctuary state is irrelevant. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services ("USCIS") may not entangle themselves in civil case party status. Am I making sense so far?
What About Your Right To A Fair Trial?
This is exactly it. A jury may not consider your legal status. No matter what, it remains unduly prejudicial. In other words, it could be unfair to you and make someone judge you for the wrong reasons. The case is about whether or not someone was negligent, and if that caused you palpable harm. That's it!
Do Undocumented Immigrants Get Paid Less For Personal Injuries?
No! As discussed here, immigration status is not even allowed into the conversation when dealing with a PI case. Negligence by the defendant, not your legal status, determines your injury compensation.
How Does An Old Wives Tale Scare Many Undocumented Immigrants Away?
Many immigrants illegally residing in the U.S. have probably heard stories we call "old wives tales," from others here illegally, that the amount of money they can get in a lawsuit will be reduced if they make a claim.
Also, it doesn't help that employers threaten to have employees deported if they bring a personal injury threat. Of course, that is a crime, as well as a violation of employment law regulations. But whether or not an undocumented victim gets a reduced award is not based upon status.
But the answer is NO! Before the passage and enactment of AB AB 2159 in 2016, a California appellate court said illegal aliens could have their future earning damages reduced. Noteworthy was the reasoning. Basically, courts reasoned that illegals could be deported and lose that future earning capacity. So this rule caused many cases to settle for less than their actual value.
How Rodriguez Ended Unfairness.
The sticking point was tallying damages by Pesos in Mexico, or basing future lost wages upon the Mexican native's U.S. "dollars" employment figure. (See, e.g., Rodriguez v. Kline (1986) 186 Cal. App. 3d 1146.) But around 30 years later, Governor Jerry Brown decided to sign the legislation above that ended this.
In any event, this case is still in recent memory of many who came here before 2016. Back then, most trial courts upheld this appellate decision, and Rodriguez became the law of the land in wrongful death and injury cases. So in most cases, the future earning capacity of a California injury victim was based upon his or her country of origin.
Not long ago, many injury lawyers did not want to help personally injured illegals. Because the case value was significantly reduced, it was not viable to take these cases. And the rule led to tragically lowered settlements and payouts. Modernly, the anonymity of their immigration status prevents reduced awards.
So now they can receive the maximum amount of future lost earning capacity in tallying a wrongful death or personal injury insurance claim, for example.
- The paradox of CA medical malpractice laws.
Remarkably, liberal Governor Brown signed the limits on recovery for medical malpractice cases to a $250,000 cap for pain and suffering. So 30 years later, with no increases in the med-mal damages cap, doctors remain protected. But victims suffer due to the fact the recovery of the damages remains unfairly reduced by the MICRA limitations.
What Kinds Of Personal Injury Cases Can Undocumented Aliens Bring?
Of special interest, the most common types of cases Ehline Law Firm assets undocumented aliens with are car accidents.
After all, many of these migrants work manual labor and are always on the freeways and highways. Some of the personal injury accidents undocumented immigrants can sue for include:
- Traffic Accidents like:
- Bicycle Wrecks
- Left Hand Turn Wrecks
- Uber and Lyft Ride Sharing Accidents
- Drunk Driving Collisions
- Hit & Run Accidents
- Distracted Driving Accidents
- Bus Crashes
- Motorcycle Wrecks
- Delivery Truck Collisions
- Crosswalk Accidents
Other Catastrophic Accidents like:
- Slip, Trip, and Fall
- Workplace Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Bouncer Attacks
- Accidents Resulting in a wrongful death
So in this case, capping damages remains improper. Rodriguez, supra, no longer applies if you are undocumented. Loss of future income is now based upon your U.S. employment numbers, not those of your home country.
Contact Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys.
Above we learned from personal injury attorney, Michael Ehline, that immigration status has no place in a careless or wanton death or injury lawsuit. But now that you know this does not sleep on your rights! Certain cases have different statutory deadlines. So for example, if a city truck ran you over and broke your leg, you may have only six months or less to seek money. The same goes for cruise ship accidents.
The only way you can know more about preserving your rights to personal injury compensation is to contact attorney Ehline at Ehline Law Firm right now! Call (213) 596-9642.