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Do Undocumented Immigrants Get Paid Less For Personal Injuries?


No fun being illegal or is it?
Illegal immigration concept as a chain fence with a hole shaped as text that represents people illegally crossing a national border violating the migration law of the country as undocumented immigrants.

No! As discussed previously, immigration status is not even allowed into the conversation when dealing with a PI case. As long as you can show negligence by the defendant, you get treated like any citizen would for purposes of calculating your personal injury compensation.

How Does An Old Wive's Tale Scares Many Undocumented Immigrants Away?

Many immigrants illegally residing in the U.S. have probably heard stories we call "old wive's tales," from others here illegally, that the amount of money they can get in a lawsuit will be reduced if they make a claim.

It doesn't help that employers threaten to have employees deported if they bring a personal injury threat. Of course, that is a crime, as well as a violation of employment law regulations. But the question of whether or not an undocumented personal injury victim will have their award reduced has been decided.

The answer is NO! Prior to the passage and enactment of AB AB 2159 in 2016, a California appellate court said illegal aliens could have their future earning damages reduced since they could be deported and lose that future earnings capacity. This rule caused many cases to settle for less than their actual value.

The sticking point was tallying damages by Pesos in Mexico, or basing future lost wages upon the Mexican native's U.S. "dollars" employment figure. (See e.g., Rodriguez v. Kline (1986) 186 Cal. App. 3d 1146.)  But around 30 years later, Governor Jerry Brown decided to sign the legislation above that ended this.

In any event, this case is still in recent memory of many who came here prior to 2016. Back then, most trial courts upheld this appellate decision and Rodriguez became the law of the land in wrongful death and injury cases. So in most cases, the future earning capacity of a California injury victim was based upon his or her country of origin.

Under this legal doctrine, many injury lawyers did not want to help illegals, because the case value was significantly reduced. It led to settlements that were tragically lowered in payouts. Modernly, undocumented immigrants have the right to anonymity of their immigration status.

Now they can receive the maximum amount of future lost earning capacity in tallying a wrongful death or personal injury insurance claim, for example.

  • The paradox of CA medical malpractice laws.

Remarkably, liberal Governor Brown signed the limits on recovery for medical malpractice cases to a $250,000 cap for pain and suffering. So 30 years later, with no increases in the med mal damages cap, doctors remain protected, but victims suffer due to the fact the damages recovery has been limited unfairly by the MICRA limitations.

What Kinds of Personal Injury Cases Can Undocumented Aliens Bring?

The most common types of cases ELFPI assets undocumented aliens with are car accidents.

After all, many of these migrants work manual labor, and are constantly on the freeways and highways. Some of the personal injury accidents undocumented immigrants can sue for include:

  • Traffic Accidents like:
    • Bicycle Wrecks
    • Left Hand Turn Wrecks
    • Uber and Lyft Ride Sharing Accidents
    • Drunk Driving Collisions
    • Hit & Run Accidents
    • Distracted Driving Accidents
    • Bus Crashes
    • Motorcycle Wrecks
    • Delivery Truck Collisions
    • Crosswalk Accidents
  • Other Catastrophic Accidents like:
    • Slip, Trip and Fall
    • Workplace Accidents
    • Dog Bites
    • Bouncer Attacks
    • Accidents Resulting in a wrongful death

So the bottom line here is that your damages are not capped. Rodriguez, supra, no longer applies if you are undocumented. Loss of future income is now based upon your U.S. employment numbers, not those of your home country.

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