When a United States citizen is injured in a car accident, they usually are aware that consulting a personal injury lawyer is the next step to take to make sure that they are compensated for an accident that was not their fault. However, undocumented immigrants may not be as sure that taking legal action after an accident is an option.
Laws about undocumented immigrants are sometimes confusing or unclear. If you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may hesitate about taking legal action because you may be afraid that getting involved with a lawsuit may trigger unintended consequences, possibly even deportation.
Undocumented Immigrants and Personal Injury Claims
Because of a new law that passed in California in 2016, courts aren’t allowed to ask about a plaintiff’s immigration status. The law also states defendants aren’t allowed to try to find out the immigration status of an accident victim. If the other driver’s lawyer tries to intimidate you in any way because of your immigration status, this is unethical, and you should let your lawyer know.
Before this law was passed, calculating settlements of undocumented immigrants was based on what they would have earned if they’d continued to live in their native country. Lost wages for immigrants are now calculated based on what you would have earned here in the U.S. if you hadn’t been injured.
What Happens if You Don’t File a Claim?
You may have a sense of uneasiness because of your immigration status, and you may think that you’re better off not filing a claim. The decision of whether or not to file a personal injury lawsuit is a personal one. No one can decide for you what you should do.
The problem with choosing not to file is that you may eventually end up with big problems or consequences that you don’t know how to solve such as:
- Very expensive medical bills
- Possibly ongoing medical care
- Inability to continue to do your job, which can lead to major financial challenges
- You may not yet know the full extent of your injuries
- If you wait too long, the statute of limitations may run out. In California, you have up to two years to file a personal injury claim.
Things to Consider Before Deciding to File or Not to File a Personal Injury Claim
The amount of money you might be able to collect is based on several different factors. The first factor is the extent of your injuries. If you weren’t hurt badly, you may not want to file a personal injury claim. It may not be worth it to you if an investigation might reveal that you’re partially at fault, or you may just not want to take the time to gather evidence if your settlement is likely to be very small.
You’ll also have to consider whether you have a strong case against the other driver. The less clear the other party’s liability, the longer the case may be dragged out.
Do You Need Legal Advice About an Accident That Caused Personal Injury in California?
As an undocumented immigrant, you still have the right to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit if you’ve been hurt in an accident. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else, Megeredchian Law wants to help. It’s always a good idea to talk to an expert personal injury lawyer if you’ve sustained injuries.
Get in touch with us by filling out the form on this page. We’ll contact you to set up a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your accident. We can clarify your rights and will work toward getting you the compensation you deserve.