Protecting Undocumented Immigrants in Personal Injury Cases

Protecting Undocumented Immigrants in Personal Injury Cases  

New Law Protects Undocumented Immigrants in Personal Injury Cases

Protecting Undocumented Immigrants in Personal Injury Cases

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Personal Injury Attorney. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed several bills into law that affect the rights of undocumented immigrants and one plays a key role in personal injury lawsuits in Stockton and throughout California. While the new statute will protect the legal rights of minors who may be able to seek a statutory remedy, who all is affected remains to be seen.

Basics of Personal Injury Damages

Courts frequently try to ascertain whether or not personal injury plaintiffs in Stockton and throughout the state of California can seek monetary damages for their claims. If that is true, then the calculations can become complex. It is easy for someone to determine how much medical bills will cost based on existing ones. However, in two other cases, potential damages are based on two main issues:

1) Lost quality of life: this is a difficult measure and revolves around the ability for a person to enjoy the rest of their years. Such issues might include loss of the ability to have children.
2) Lost future wages: This is easier to address. If a person is attending college, then an expert witness might consult annual wages to figure out what future salaries an injured party might have earned.

Undocumented Immigrants Have Been in Limbo in California

However, undocumented immigrants have occupied a certain legal limbo in California. In two key areas, judges have differed in terms of lost wages and the admissibility of one’s immigration status. Most recently, in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., the state Supreme Court found that the Remedial Statutes pre-empted federal statutes including the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Specifically, since the employer was unaware of Salas’ immigration status when it chose to discriminate against him based upon disability. However, in the case of personal injury claims, the evidence is less clear based upon age.

The Change for California Undocumented Immigrants

With Gov. Brown signing the new bill into law, personal injury cases and any other civil action brought by minor children of undocumented parents in California cannot be abrogated their rights because of the actions of their parents. The statute was brought as a result of 80 former elementary children who alleged sexual abuse by a former Los Angeles teacher.

Significant Difference Between Lost Quality of Life and Lost Future Wages

However, the difference between lost quality of life and lost future wages may be significant. The need for mental health care and psychiatric treatment is obviously a real possibility for those children and may affect other areas of their lives.

Lost Wages and Other Injuries

Yet, Salas may have a more significant impact for people who were over the age of 18 at the time of a statutory injury. It’s up to a judge, but a personal injury lawyer in California may or may not be able to argue that the protection should extend to lost wages and other injuries. As it stands, some attorneys believe that past wages should be affected but not future ones.

Stockton Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Personal Injury Attorney.  When you or someone you love has been serverely injured or has passed away in an accident due to the negligence of another, please call me promptly at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. I help people recover compensation for their personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

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