Immigration Status and the Right to Sue for Personal Injuries

Being injured through the negligence of another person is a disheartening event that can lead to several losses for the victim. Depending on how serious an accident is, the victim may have huge hospital bills, property damage and even lost wages at work as a result. There are some people, however, who think that they have no legal standing due to their immigration status. If a visitor from another country or even an illegal immigrant is injured through the negligence of another, there are certain things that they should know in relation to their chances of getting compensation. 

The Law

State statutes all vary in their handling of immigration status and personal injury suits. If an illegal immigrant is injured on the job in Illinois, for instance, they are entitled to full worker’s compensation benefits. If a person dies on the job, however, their family is only entitled to half of the worker’s compensation death benefits provided to legal documented workers. Federal law, however, ensures that states cannot deny a person certain rights regardless of their immigration status. 

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that every person on U.S. soil has the right to equal protection under the country’s law, regardless of their current immigration status. According to our Indiana personal injury lawyer this means that an illegal immigrant or visitor can legally bring a personal injury lawsuit forward against the negligent party. An attorney will be highly beneficial in these cases due to the fact that the victim may have no knowledge of U.S. law whatsoever.

The Civil Rights Act also guarantees a person’s right to bring forth a personal injury claim regardless of their immigration status. This is important because people who are in the process of being granted citizenship and those who are currently not in the process of gaining citizenship are especially vulnerable to issues caused by a loss of wages. The United States ensures that anyone, regardless of who they are and where they are from, has the right to receive compensation from a negligent party who caused them harm.

How Immigration Status May Come into Play

Unfortunately, federal law cannot decide the compensation that a person with immigration status issues receives. These decisions are left up to a judge or jury. This is why it is important for a person in this situation to hire an attorney immediately. Immigration status should have no bearing on liability issues, and juries will usually be instructed of this. This doesn’t mean, however, that the defendant will not bring it up or that the jury won’t consider it.

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Immigration status will probably not affect a person’s likelihood of receiving personal injury compensation, but it may become an issue if a person is trying to receive compensation for lost wages or worker’s compensation. Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from working in the United States and companies from hiring these illegal immigrants. Many juries will believe that this in effect means the injured party was never entitled to wages in the first place and surely isn’t entitled to future lost wages since they can’t legally work in the states.

Not all juries will consider these facts, but there is a good chance that they will. This is another reason why it is imperative to have an experienced attorney. A person with a questionable immigration status will likely be treated unfairly in court if they do not have proper representation. Just because a person may not have been working in the states legally does not mean they shouldn’t receive recompense for their inability to work.

Immigration has always been a burning issue in America. Unfortunately, this can sometimes find its way into personal injury cases. Federal law protects the rights of everyone in the United States, regardless of whether they are citizens or not. This doesn’t mean, however, that juries will recognize the need to treat undocumented immigrants as fairly as U.S. citizens. A person with an attorney at their side therefore, will likely fare much better in their personal injury suit.

This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy a writer and former legal editor for a respected law blog.  She is currently a contributing writer for Sevenish Law Firm, P.C, whose Indiana personal injury lawyer services offer to help all living and working on U.S soil seek fair representation in court when claiming damages for personal injuries. 

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