May 5, 2023
Can an Undocumented Immigrant File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
By Jonathan Damashek
According to the Migration Policy Institute, New York has an estimated 518,000 undocumented immigrants in its workforce. It’s likely they could be injured in NYC, especially in a dangerous profession like construction.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports nearly 2.1 cases of illness or injury for every 100,000 NY construction workers. And approximately 41% of immigrants working in construction are undocumented. These workers have the right to compensation after an injury and should contact a lawyer for assistance.
You can explore the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit without fear of deportation. Do not worry. Call our office today at (212) 490-5700 to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
New York Laws Protect Undocumented Immigrants
The law in New York is clear. Undocumented immigrants have the same legal rights as U.S. citizens and can sue for personal injury damages. Your immigration status has nothing to do with your right to recover.
The New York Court of Appeals settled this issue in 2006 by ruling in a case entitled Stanislaw Majlinger v. Casino Contracting Corp. The court held that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not preempt New York laws that allow undocumented immigrants to seek damages in a personal injury lawsuit. These immigrants can do so without fear of federal repercussions, such as arrest and detainment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
Most law enforcement officials focus on undocumented immigrants charged with or convicted of crimes. Immigration agents aim to remove undocumented immigrants who are criminal offenders or who are already living under a deportation order.
New York is a Sanctuary City
New York considers itself to be a sanctuary city. This means that New York City leaders, from the mayor’s office down, have pledged to protect their undocumented immigrants. The city’s law enforcement officers have been told to limit their cooperation with ICE agents and not to volunteer any information they may have about people’s immigration status.
That means pursuing a personal injury case should not alert ICE of your immigration status or whereabouts unless you’ve committed a crime. You have the right to compensation after another’s reckless actions injure you.
What Kind of Personal Injury Cases are in New York?
When you have suffered severe injury or illness due to someone else’s negligence, you still have the right to compensation for your damages, even as an undocumented immigrant. Some of the most common types of personal injury cases in New York include:
- Slip and falls at work
- Construction accidents
- Manufacturing accidents
- Explosions and fires
- Scaffold accidents
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Forklift accidents
- Bulldozer accidents
- Crane accidents
These are just a few examples of instances in which you can pursue a personal injury claim. Do not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney today to explore your legal options, despite your citizenship status.
What Kind of Damages Can Undocumented Immigrants Pursue?
Undocumented immigrants can file a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary compensation when someone has injured them through negligence.
Such damages can include compensation for the following:
- Medical bills
- Medications and therapies
- X-rays and other tests
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Medical equipment
- Cost of expected future medical care
- Home health care expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Personal injury suits are a civil matter, not criminal cases. Your immigration status is not and cannot be a factor in determining the amount of damages you receive. It certainly cannot be a factor that limits your rights to avail yourself of the New York courts and seek the compensation you deserve after an injury.
Who Can I Sue in a Personal Injury Case?
The individuals or entities that injured you will be responsible for compensating you for your damages. However, your personal injury attorney will need to carefully examine the details of your case and conduct a thorough investigation to identify these at-fault parties.
Who to sue depends on the type of accident that caused your injuries. If you were injured in an accident at work, you might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, supervisor, colleagues, equipment manufacturers, and other third parties. Third-party liability claims are prevalent in work injury claims, as you might also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in addition to restitution for your compensatory damages.
Only an in-depth investigation will reveal the liable parties. Your personal injury attorney can interview witnesses, hire experts to review the forensic evidence and testify, and obtain copies of all necessary documentation of your injuries and the accident that caused them. This might include:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Crash reports
- Incident reports
- Safety inspection logs
- Maintenance records
- Accident reconstructionist reports
Why Should I Work with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
As an undocumented worker, you may be terrified of deportation and other citizenship issues. This might make holding the liable party accountable for their actions seem impossible. We understand these overwhelming feelings. We’re here to ease your fears. We will help you exercise your right to compensation for your damages and protect your interests.
According to 8 USC § 1227, filing a personal injury claim is not considered a deportable offense. Even if the defense were to try making your life as a foreign national more difficult, we know your rights. We will go to great lengths to ensure you are compensated fairly, despite your immigration status.
Get Help From a New York Personal Injury Attorney
Most ICE arrests occur in criminal, not civil, courts. Do not hesitate to file a personal injury claim, regardless of your immigration status.
At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we understand you might be fearful. We know you deserve compensation if someone’s reckless behavior hurt you. We can help you pursue justice, regardless of your immigration status.
We have helped undocumented immigrants in the past. We are experienced personal injury lawyers that know and have worked with immigration law. Bring your case to us.