Undocumented Immigrants FAQ

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 Wive's Tale Scare Many Undocumented Immigrants Away?

Many immigrants illegally residing in the U.S. have probably heard stories we call "old wive's 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.