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Does Your Immigration Status Matter when Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

Posted on : June 15, 2017
by : Aurelio

Immigration / Personal Injury San Diego serves as home for many people who have come to the US from other countries to escape violence or build better lives for their families. While these people form an important part of our community and make a significant contribution to the American economy and culture, they may not yet have full legal status as a resident or citizen of the US. This status can cause uncertainty for undocumented persons, but California does provide certain protections to the undocumented, including when they are victims of negligence or personal injury. Considering both medical expenses and time spent off work, making a full recovery after an accident can be a costly process. Many accident victims turn to the courts to seek the money they need after an accident, but someone without legal status in the US might be scared that their immigration status could affect their case. Will a personal injury victim’s immigration status make a difference to the outcome of their lawsuit? The answer to that question in the State of California is NO, but this hasn’t always been the case.

Prior state law made it difficult for the undocumented to seek personal injury damages

For many years, injured plaintiffs who were undocumented ran the risk of having their undocumented status used against them in court. Based on a case titled Rodriguez v. Kline, defense lawyers could use an injured victim’s immigration status as a way to reduce the amount of damages to be paid to a victim. Rodriguez set a precedent of allowing courts to calculate the value of wages lost by an undocumented accident victim according to what the victim would’ve made in their home country, rather than in the US. Not only did this case reduce the damages a victim would receive, but it also scared many deserving accident victims away from filing a lawsuit.

California law NOW protects claims by undocumented persons for injury damages

Due to the passage of a new law this year, this rule is no longer the law in California. With the enactment of AB 2159 in January of 2017, California courts may no longer consider a personal injury plaintiff’s immigration status, nor may defendants present evidence regarding the plaintiff's immigration status in court. This law offers peace of mind for injury victims, knowing that they don’t have to choose between keeping their immigration status a secret and seeking the money damages they deserve after an accident.   If you’ve been hurt in a Southern California injury accident, contact the seasoned and dedicated San Diego personal injury lawyers at Banker’s Hill Law Firm for a consultation, at 619-230-0330.