Maryland has a large number of undocumented immigrants. According to the American Immigration Council, approximately 29% of the immigrant population and 5% of the state’s total population in 2016 were undocumented.
Many of these individuals work in jobs that are dangerous or have little to no protection. Results from a 2009 study even revealed that immigrants are more likely to take on risky jobs than U.S.-born workers.
As a result, they can be seriously injured on the job. Undocumented immigrants who sustained injuries in Maryland may be wondering if they can bring a personal injury claim. This blog explores their options. Take a look.
Can Undocumented Immigrants File Personal Injury Claims?
In short, yes. Like anyone else in Maryland, an undocumented immigrant can file a personal injury claim if they have been hurt due to the negligence of another person. However, these individuals face unique issues. For example, most undocumented workers avoid coming forward to seek medical attention or file a claim because they fear incarceration or deportation.
Some immigrants could also be paying child support and fear that their income will be garnished to pay for the other parent’s legal fees. Others may be going through a divorce while having a visa under their spouse’s application. Thus, their lawful ability to stay in the U.S. may be in jeopardy if they come forward to file a personal injury claim.
These are valid concerns. While the federal government has said that it will not use hospitals and other medical facilities as a means to find and deport undocumented immigrants, many individuals are still understandably afraid to seek the care they need. This fear can prevent people from getting the treatment they need and hinder their ability to build a strong personal injury case.
Will a Plaintiff’s Undocumented Status Affect Their Personal Injury Claim?
Undocumented individuals who proceed with filing a personal injury claim in Maryland may have their status used against them. However, evidence of their undocumented status will only be admissible in court if it is relevant to the case. Additionally, an undocumented worker’s status may become irrelevant if the court finds its evidence’s admission unduly prejudicial.
In a case where an undocumented immigrant’s status is relevant, courts may use it to calculate damages. For example, an undocumented worker who is hurt on the job may be prevented from working and earning an income in the future. In this instance, their immigration status would be relevant to the court in determining how much money they should receive for lost wages.
What Factors Affect an Undocumented Individual’s Damages?
Maryland courts will consider certain factors when calculating an undocumented worker’s lost wages. These include:
- Deportation Risk: Courts will assess whether the undocumented plaintiff’s personal injury claim puts them at imminent risk of deportation. A plaintiff who is likely to be deported may obtain a significantly reduced amount of lost wages.
- History of Stay: The court will look at how long the plaintiff has been in the country. If they have only been in the country for a short time, the lost wages they incur may be less than someone who has been in the U.S. for many years.
- Length of Employment: The court will also assess the plaintiff’s work history while in the country. A plaintiff who has been working steadily for many years may have larger limits than someone who is unemployed or has only worked for a short time.
- Family in the U.S.: The court will consider the plaintiff’s family members who are U.S. citizens or legal residents when calculating their lost wages. If the plaintiff is the sole income earner for their family, they may be entitled to a larger amount of damages than someone without financial dependents.
- Home Country Pay Rates: Courts may limit an undocumented immigrant’s damages according to the amounts that the plaintiff would receive in their native country.
Get Expert Legal Representation To Champion Your Personal Injury Claims as an Undocumented Individual
Regardless of immigration status, anyone in Maryland who has been injured due to the negligence of another party is entitled to seek compensation for their losses. However, undocumented immigrants often face unique legal challenges that can make it difficult to assert their rights.
At DT&F, our personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to unwaveringly represent the rights of undocumented immigrants. We understand the unique challenges they face and will work tirelessly to ensure they obtain the maximum compensation they are entitled to. Schedule a consultation now.