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Can an Undocumented Immigrant File an Injury Claim?

Normally, when someone is injured due to someone else’s negligence, they don’t hesitate to pursue a personal injury claim. However, undocumented immigrants don’t always feel they have this right and are reluctant to take legal action. They worry that getting involved in the legal system in this or any other way can and will expose them to far-reaching consequences such as deportation.
In today’s political climate many undocumented immigrants fear seeking legal recourse due to the possibility of their immigration status being revealed. They may be afraid that the justice system will turn against them, causing them to be deported if reported to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).

However, in most states, it doesn’t matter what your immigration status is - everyone has the right to a fair trial, with the ability to pursue a personal injury, wrongful death or workers’ compensation claim. Indeed, immigration status should not be considered a factor when determining liability; and it cannot be brought up throughout the settlement or litigation process.
Immigration status of the plaintiff is inadmissible and the defendant is not allowed to seek information regarding immigration status. To that end, undocumented immigrants can’t be threatened with deportation.
Remaining silent can have a large negative impact on your life:

  • You may not be able to afford the right medical treatment.
  • You may not be able to pay your bills if you are physically unable to work.
  • You will have to live with the fact that the person who hurt you will not be held accountable for their actions.

If you have not completed the long, complex process of becoming a U.S. citizen, this doesn’t mean that American laws don’t apply to you. You still have rights, and that includes fighting for compensation after suffering a personal injury accident.


In one case dating back to 2006 involving the New York Court of Appeals, the plaintiff, Gorgonio Balbuena, a Mexican national and undocumented immigrant, suffered a traumatic brain injury while working at a construction site. As a result, he could no longer work. Mr. Balbuena tried to file a personal injury claim but couldn’t prove he was legally allowed to work in this country.


Initially, the claim was dismissed due to his immigration status. But the New York Court of Appeals ruled that Balbuena had the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit no matter what his immigration status because he had been hurt while working due to another party’s negligence. This case set a precedent for courts throughout the United States.


If you or are an undocumented immigrant that has been hurt in an accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Just remember, you have rights!



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