Can Undocumented Immigrants File Personal Injury Claims in California?
The short answer to this question is yes, absolutely. If you were injured in an accident in California through no fault of your own, you can file a personal injury claim. Your immigration status is irrelevant. In addition, if you are the next of kin of someone killed in an accident in California, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim as well. Your immigrant status or that of the deceased do not prevent you from doing so. For a free, confidential consultation, call Wilshire Law Firm at (800) 522-7274 or fill out our online form.
What Legal Rights Do Undocumented Immigrants Have?
You may still be hesitant to act for fear of deportation. But because of California Assembly Bill 2159, there’s no need to be afraid. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed this bill into law. It protected the rights of accident victims who are also undocumented immigrants. Among the rights granted were:
- Not allowing the plaintiff’s immigration status to be brought up in court.
- Barring the defendant from investigating the plaintiff’s immigration status.
- Calculating lost income based on what the plaintiff would earn in the U.S., not their home country.
In short, an undocumented immigrant cannot be deported for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in California. Therefore, there’s no need to think that’s a possibility, even if someone informs you otherwise in order to scare you into not pursuing a claim.
How are Damages Awarded to Accident Victims?
The other important provision of this bill changed how damages are awarded to accident victims. Before 2016, plaintiffs who were undocumented immigrants had their lost earnings calculated based on what they would have earned in their country of origin. Thus, the amount awarded would end up being much lower than if the calculation had taken potential earnings in the U.S. into account.
This is important to note because this lower amount would not have covered the expenses of someone involved in a serious or catastrophic accident in the U.S. That’s because care and medical expenses here in the United States can end up costing a victim hundreds of thousands (if not millions of dollars). Examples of some of these expenses include:
- Hospital bills
- Ongoing medical treatment
- Rehabilitation expenses
- In some cases, long term care
- If needed, retrofitting a home for accessibility
At Wilshire Law Firm, we firmly believe that every accident victim has the right to compensation for their injuries or the loss of a loved one, regardless of their legal status. California Assembly Bill 2159 was a much-needed step in the right direction. Supported by a staff of over 100 bilingual employees, Wilshire Law Firm’s highly-skilled attorneys have the resources, knowledge and experience to successfully handle your personal injury claim. Call us today for a FREE consultation regarding your case at (800) 522-7274 or complete our form online.