Understanding Personal Injury Claims and Immigration Status
If I am an undocumented person residing in Florida, can I still make a claim for damages through a personal injury action?
Yes! The process of hiring an attorney and reaching a settlement (or a judgment in court) to recover for personal injuries does not change depending on one’s immigration status. Personal injury law is all about “making the injured party whole” after an injury—regardless of whether or not that person is a U.S. Citizen. There is a common misconception that undocumented people have less rights than U.S. Citizens to pursue compensation for their injuries, but this is completely untrue.
Under Florida law, when an undocumented person is injured in a car accident, slip & fall, or any other type of negligence-related accident, that person has the right to bring a claim for compensation. Period.
In the pre-suit stage of the claim (which is the phase of the claim that happens before the filing of a lawsuit with the court), the question of legal status typically does not arise at all. This phase is also where most personal injury claims are settled by the insurance companies. Also, during this phase, the undocumented person would not need to physically go to court, nor would they typically need to say anything on the record. The attorney would make all demands and negotiate a settlement for you.
Is my immigration status going to be a problem if my case goes to trial?
Generally speaking, no. If a claim for damages seeks compensation for medical expenses, damaged personal property, or pain & suffering damages, then the undocumented status of the plaintiff will not likely be an issue in a court of law, despite the fact that the undocumented status may become entered into the record during deposition, direct examination or cross-examination. This is why it is important for illegal immigrants to always give their true name to their attorneys and to the party that they are seeking to recover from.
For example, if you are in a car accident that is not your fault and the police arrive, you should still give your full name to create a written history of what happened and who was involved. This way, your attorney can make a claim on your behalf and maximize the amount of compensation you can receive.
If an undocumented person fails to make a personal injury claim due to fear that the government will either deport them or limit their recovery, they are risking the chance to ever be able to legally recover money for the injury at all.
You should not allow your immigration status to stop you from seeking what you are legally entitled to. If you are undocumented and are injured in an accident, it is important that you report the accident, seek medical treatment, and contact experienced car accident attorneys as soon as possible so they can help you proceed with a claim. The attorneys at Hale Law are ready to help. Call us at 941-735-4529 for a free consultation or visit us at halelaw.com to setup your free consultation online anytime. All of our legal services come at no cost to you unless we get you paid.