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Can You Be Deported for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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One common reason why undocumented immigrants avoid filing personal injury claims against the at-fault party for compensatory damages after they have been injured is the fear that they will be deported by immigration services. 

Whether undocumented individuals suffer from workplace injuries or a car accident, they are much less likely to seek fair compensation, even when they are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

In truth, it is not the process of filing a civil lawsuit that results in deportation. The U.S. legal system allows anyone to file a personal injury claim regardless of a person’s immigration status. In many states, it also ensures that your immigration status is not disclosed during the legal process. 

Having an experienced lawyer on your side can help you avoid deportation, if circumstances arise for it. Read on to learn more about how to file a personal injury claim despite your immigration status.

When filing personal injury claims, your immigrant status is irrelevant. Not only is it not an issue under the law, but your right as an undocumented immigrant to seek compensation from the negligent party is part of the United States Constitution. 

Under the 14th Amendment, everyone, regardless of United States citizenship, has the ability to file a claim if they have been injured and to enjoy equal protection of the law [1]. Even if you live here unlawfully, the Constitution still provides you with some legal protections. 

Several states have specific laws against discrimination against undocumented immigrants. Illinois, California, New York, and Washington are some of the most notable states with laws specifically protecting them. 

In California, for instance, citizenship status is categorized as sensitive personal information [2]. This means that it should be protected in the same way that other personal data is, such as social security numbers and other personally identifiable information about a person.

Immigration Law Protections in Illinois

Illinois offers many protections and rights to non-citizens. The TRUST Act prohibits local law enforcement officers from participating in any immigration enforcement activities, including deporting undocumented immigrants [3]. The Office of the Attorney General does not inquire about immigration status.

Attorney-Client Privilege

In addition to federal and state protections, personal injury lawyers adhere to the principles of attorney-client privilege. What you disclose to your lawyer will not be given over to immigration authorities as you seek compensation for your injuries. You can feel confident that you can securely share information with your lawyer freely as part of the civil claims process.

Types of Personal Injury Claims an Undocumented Immigrant Can Pursue

Personal injury law covers a wide array of cases, including personal injury claims for truck accidents involving undocumented immigrants, car accidents, and slip and falls. This area of law also allows the relatives of a deceased victim to file a wrongful death claim as an undocumented immigrant if the death resulted from someone else’s negligence.

One of the most common types of personal injury cases arises from motor vehicle accidents, where victims seek financial compensation for injuries caused by another’s actions. This includes scenarios where undocumented immigrants are injured by a government vehicle, potentially leading to claims against the responsible government entity.

Moreover, while pursuing a personal injury claim, it’s crucial for undocumented immigrants to understand the immigration status effect over car accident claims. 

Consulting with a lawyer is important, as such claims do not generally pose a risk of deportation—they are not classified as deportable offenses. However, the specific nuances of how your legal status might influence the process should be carefully managed with professional legal advice.

Deportation Risks for Undocumented Immigrants Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

The risk of deportation for undocumented immigrants doesn’t come from filing a personal injury claim. It comes from having your immigration status confirmed by the right law enforcement agency, which is then required to take action. 

Many undocumented immigrants avoid filing personal injury cases and law enforcement altogether because there is the risk that they may be found out. In some cases, this could be retaliation on the part of the negligent party or another party involved in the situation. 

This can also be an issue if you are suing your employer. In retaliation, they may try to intimidate you into backing down by exposing your undocumented status. Employer retaliation protections for undocumented workers are in place for this exact reason. 

In general, you will not be deported for filing a claim for compensation from the negligent party. While there are plenty of sanctuary jurisdictions where states won’t work to enforce immigration laws, there are plenty that participate in customs enforcement. 

You may be reported to ICE if you are undocumented and the government finds out about it. Before doing anything and filing a claim, schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to learn how to file a claim in a way that minimizes this risk.

How to Safeguard Your Rights When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you are going to file a personal injury lawsuit and you are undocumented, there are some steps that you can take to safeguard your rights while seeking the compensation you deserve from your claim: 

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Hiring experienced personal injury attorneys skilled in working with undocumented immigrants may make it easier to avoid some of the potential problems that can arise that could also lead to deportation. 

They can also protect your immigration status more effectively, minimizing the risks of anyone finding out. Your immigration status is protected under attorney-client privilege, so having a lawyer who has experience filing similar cases means less of a risk. 

Document the Injury

Before you do anything else, document the injury with the help of personal injury lawyers. In essence, you want to create a document trail that shows you were injured, the extent of the injury, and the steps that you had to take to address it. All of this documentation is used later to support your case. Examples of documentation that you need include:

  • Medical bills
  • Pictures of the injury
  • Medical statements by care providers
  • Witness statements
  • Mandated reports 

Avoid Discussing Your Immigration Status

One of the most effective ways to prevent your immigration status from becoming an issue is to avoid discussing your status with anyone, especially law enforcement officials. 

Don’t give them the chance to hear it directly from you so that they are not forced to act on that information. You do not need to say anything that could incriminate yourself. Instead, ask to speak with your lawyer first. 

Filing a Motion in Limine

Most personal injury claims are settled before reaching the court system. However, in the event that your case goes to trial, your lawyer can file a pre-trial motion called a motion in limine to suppress the plaintiff’s immigration status from being used as evidence or an argument in the trial [4]. 

This way, a person’s immigration status will not have any bearing on the outcome of the case and will not be considered admissible evidence. 

The Bottom Line

Being deported is a common fear and potential problem that an undocumented immigrant struggles with when faced with the option to file a personal injury claim. If you have a claim to file because of someone else’s negligence, discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer.

They can offer you the guidance and legal support that you need with the ability to keep your immigrant status confidential. 

Your citizenship status does not mean that you cannot pursue compensation for your injuries, in the same way that citizens do. The law preserves your right to file an injury lawsuit, get medical expenses covered for workplace injuries, and receive compensation from an insurance company. 

Resources: [1] U.S. Constitution, [2] California Legislative Information, [3] Illinois Attorney General, [4] Cornell Law

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

– Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

– Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

– Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

– Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother’s death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

– Lisa

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