Can an Undocumented Immigrant Sue After a Car Accident?

can an illegal immigrant sue car accident

Being undocumented doesn’t prevent you from seeking justice and exercising your rights after a car accident caused by another party’s negligence. Despite the immigration laws and potential fears, you still have legal protections and may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.

Here’s what you need to know if you’ve been involved in an accident.

Your Immigration Status Doesn’t Accident Compensation in New York

Under the holdings found in MAJLINGER V. CASSINO CONTRACTING CORP. (2003) and BALBUENA V. IDR REALTY LLC (2006), New York law allows anyone who has been harmed by another party’s wrongful actions to seek compensation for their damages, regardless of their immigration status.

This rule means that even if you’re in the country illegally, the at-fault driver must compensate you for your:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Other accident-related losses

You should not let fear of deportation or interacting with authorities stop you from standing up for your rights and seeking the recovery you deserve.

Challenges Undocumented Immigrants May Face After an Accident

While you have the right to sue, many undocumented immigrants often face unique challenges when pursuing a claim after being injured in a car accident.

These difficulties may include:

  • Language barriers and unfamiliarity with the US legal system.
  • Difficulty obtaining evidence like police reports or medical records without a valid ID.
  • Bias and discrimination from car insurance companies, juries, or even some attorneys.
  • Concerns about how immigration status could impact the case.

However, an experienced personal injury attorney who has worked with undocumented clients can help you work through these issues and build a strong case on your behalf.

Steps Undocumented Immigrants Should Take After a Car Accident

Below, we’ve listed some important steps to follow if you’re an undocumented immigrant needing an insurance settlement to pay damages from a car accident.

  1. Get medical treatment for your injuries right away. Your health should be the top priority.
  2. Document the accident scene with photos if you can, and get the other driver’s and witnesses’ contact information.
  3. Be careful not to discuss your immigration status with anyone at the scene.
  4. Consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in representing undocumented immigrants.

Proving Fault and Damages in Your Injury Claim

To recover compensation, you must prove the other party caused the accident and that you suffered damages.

Your immigration status does not matter when proving liability, and you have the right to receive a settlement for the full value of your losses.

Your lawyer can help you discover evidence and build a persuasive case to demonstrate the other driver’s liability and the extent of your damages.

Dealing with Insurance Companies as an Undocumented Immigrant

Filing an insurance client after being involved in an accident is never easy, especially if you’re an undocumented immigrant.

You might worry that the insurer will use your immigration status against you or report you to authorities.

Adjusters make low offers to everyone.

Insurance companies are businesses first, and they’ll do anything to pay out as little as possible on claims, regardless of who you are or where you’re from.

Scheming insurers may attempt to use your status as leverage to get you to accept a lowball settlement or deny your claim. However, this practice is unethical, and you should never accept an offer that doesn’t fully address your economic and non-economic damages.

Hire someone to speak for you.

Instead of taking the lowest offer possible, have an experienced personal injury attorney negotiate an insurance settlement on your behalf.

Your legal counsel can:

  • Justify your damages with evidence.
  • Protect your privacy.
  • Fight for the full compensation you deserve.

And if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, your personal injury lawyer will file a cross-claim under your individual policy for damage coverage.

Working with the Right Personal Injury Attorney

As you may have noticed, it’s often necessary for undocumented or illegal immigrants to work with a personal injury law firm to protect their rights to claim compensation.

When researching car accident attorneys, you should look for a professional who:

  • Has experience successfully representing undocumented clients in personal injury cases.
  • Is bilingual, makes you feel comfortable, and takes the time to answer your questions.
  • Will safeguard your privacy and keep your immigration status confidential.

During your initial consultation, always ask about the attorney’s experience, approach, and how they will handle issues related to your immigration status.

Special Considerations for Undocumented Immigrant

Your immigration status may affect your ability to recover certain damages, such as future lost earnings.

However, a knowledgeable attorney can minimize these impacts by assessing what you would’ve earned in your country and converting the amount to US dollar equivalents, adjusting for inflation.

Honesty and confidentiality

It’s also important to be straightforward with your attorney about your immigration status and any concerns you have during your free consultation.

Everything you say to your lawyer is confidential, meaning your legal counsel cannot disclose your information or status to anyone without your consent.

Furthermore, the more your personal injury attorney understands your situation, the better equipped he or she will be to protect your interests throughout the claims process.

Maximizing compensation

Remember, maximizing your compensation is about more than just recovering money – it’s about ensuring you receive the resources to heal, support your family, and rebuild your life after a serious accident.

It would be best to focus on your recovery while your representative secures the settlement you deserve.

Discuss Your Options with a New York Injury Attorney

Know that you are not alone when fighting for your New York car accident claim rights.

Contact our personal injury attorneys at Held, Held & Held to help you explore your options and advocate for your interests.

Let us support you and hold the at-fault party accountable so you can heal and move forward with your life.

Author Bio

Edward Held is the founding member of Held, Held & Held, a family-owned multi-practice law firm in Brooklyn, NY. With more than 40 years of experience, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including personal injury, real estate, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and estate law.

Edward received his Juris Doctor from New York Law School and is a former President of the New York Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has been admitted into the Supreme Court of the United States and the New York State Courts.

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