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Can Undocumented Immigrants Sue for Personal Injury?

In the United States, many individuals without valid immigration status, fearing deportation or other consequences, do not assert their legal rights to protections against damages despite often working in industries with some of the highest rates of personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. Industries like agriculture, construction, and manufacturing have high accident rates, and workers may suffer injuries in the workplace.  Generally speaking, an undocumented immigrant is defined as any person in the United States without legal immigration status or United States Citizenship. Currently, there are over 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Like every other person in the United States, undocumented workers have a variety of legal protections. A person’s immigration status does not affect their right to pursue compensation after a personal injury incident. US law protects every individual regardless of their immigration status.

Can undocumented workers sue?

Undocumented Workers Injury

Generally speaking, yes! Undocumented workers can file legal action under a variety of claims relating to injuries they have sustained in the course of employment, but their eligibility for certain programs may vary from state to state. For example, in Illinois, undocumented workers can sue their employers for unsafe conditions, workplace injuries, and so on under the Workers’ Compensation Act. All US workers, regardless of their legal residence or citizenship status, are entitled to equal protection under federal and state laws to assert their rights to a safe workplace and for compensation in the event of a workplace injury. 

What are workplace injuries?

Workplace injuries are injuries that take place at or during the course of the workday at a workplace. Some of the most common work injuries include slips and falls, trips, injuries caused by overexertion during the course of work, and accidents that involve contact with equipment. All of these injuries are considered preventable by taking the proper precautions and adhering to OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines.

Some typical injuries that occur in the workplace include, but are not limited to:

  • Dangerous and unsafe premises injuries: These injuries may be due to conditions that are dangerous or unsafe for a variety of reasons. Property or business owners have a duty of care to ensure their premises are safe for workers and guests.
  • Slip and fall injuries: These injuries often take place when workplace conditions create an environment where workers may slip on objects or surfaces and slide or fall to the ground.
  • Brain injury: A brain injury can occur in a workplace due to the negligence of another person or from unsafe conditions or dangerous premises created by the business or property owner failing to maintain safe conditions. 
  • Heavy Equipment Injuries: Injuries sustained from the malfunction of heavy equipment can be exceedingly common in many workplaces. Malfunctioning heavy machinery can result in serious, and sometimes fatal injuries, including broken bones, dismemberment, and death, depending on the machinery in question.

Generally speaking, injuries obtained at the workplace are covered under Workers’ Compensation as opposed to personal injury claims. The rules and regulations surrounding undocumented workers’ eligibility to file a Workers’ Compensation claim varies from state to state. Contacting an experienced attorney is the best way to determine your eligibility for Workers’ Compensation depending on your immigration status.

Can you sue someone for personal injury if you’re an illegal immigrant?

Similar to the fact that undocumented workers are still able to make claims under the Workers’ Compensation Act in Illinois, illegal immigrants can also file lawsuits to recover damages related to personal injury incidents, such as a car accident, or being injured as a result of dangerous or unsafe premises. Working with a personal injury claim can be difficult and confusing, and insurance companies will oftentimes attempt to shortchange undocumented immigrants in an effort to save the bottom line. Choosing to pursue a personal injury claim, regardless of your immigration status, is always a decision best made with the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney.

During the course of personal injury litigation, the immigration status of the Plaintiff is irrelevant in many states, including Illinois, according to the Code of Civil Procedure. This calls back to the previously mentioned concept known as equal protection of the laws.

What damages are available to undocumented immigrants?

An undocumented immigrant can receive compensation for damages in a personal injury claim in the same way that a US citizen or a person with legal immigration status can. As mentioned previously, the immigration status of an individual is almost always considered inadmissible evidence in most states. Personal injury claims are designed to allow restitution for a large variety of damages, including:

Personal injury cases attempt to compensate for a variety of damages incurred, including:

  • Medical expenses: Doctors and Hospital Bills, Surgery, and more are factored into the settlement value of a personal injury claim
  • Lost wages: Helps to recover lost income as a result of being unable to work due to a personal injury incident or treatment.
  • Ongoing care: When an injury becomes long-term and needs extended or permanent treatment..
  • Funeral costs: When as the result of an incident leading to a personal injury claim, a person dies, surviving family members can seek to recover related expenses.

Recovering damages, fear of deportation

Because many undocumented immigrants are afraid of pursuing legal claims or going to court as a result of their fear of deportation, many undocumented immigrants will never attempt to recover restitution they are rightfully owed as a result of a personal injury incident. In Illinois, the Statute of Limitations to file a lawsuit for personal injury actions is two years from the date that the incident occurred.  

The fear of seeking medical treatment as an undocumented immigrant is another factor that weighs into an illegal immigrants decision to pursue a personal injury claim. Fortunately, even if an immigrant is undocumented or has unclear immigration status, they are entitled to medical care. It is your legal right to seek medical treatment without fear of deportation and to file a suit against the party that was negligent towards you. 

As mentioned previously, when an undocumented immigrant files a personal injury lawsuit, immigration officials are unable to use that information to determine the identity of and take action against an undocumented immigrant.  Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected and to recover the compensation you deserve for your personal injuries.

What Can Trent Law Firm do for Undocumented Immigrants in Personal Injury Cases?

At Trent Law Firm, P.C, we handle a large variety of personal injury claims that result from injuries due to unsafe construction zones, defective buildings or sidewalks, spills on the floor, where the property owner has been proven to have been negligent to the circumstances of their property. 

Trent Law Firm has successfully represented countless clients and even more cases, with over $100 million in restitution recovered for our clients. Our firm believes in handling cases in a way that minimizes the stress of our clients while simultaneously working tirelessly to maximize their compensation. If you are an undocumented immigrant or you know an undocumented immigrant who was injured as the result of a personal injury incident, or involved in a workplace accident, please call us for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. We’re a compassionate group to have on your side, and understand that many courts of law cover sensitive matters. Our talented team will work to cut through the fog and ensure that your case is handled with dedication and care.

Our experienced and tenacious personal injury attorneys can and will fight to enforce applicable laws. If you are in the state of Illinois, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer at Trent Law Firm, P.C. at (866) 599-8601 to discuss your situation and how Trent Law Firm may be able to help you. While tackling serious cases of any nature, our clients expect fair and deserving compensation. In each and every case, Trent Law Firm commits itself to ensuring that no money is left on the table. Our commitment to clients equates to skillful settlements and positive verdicts that make a case an easy process and set an individual or family on the path to health and recovery.

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