A new California law scheduled to become effective in February 2018 overturns an old law related to undocumented workers and the damages they could recover in matters involving personal injury.
Undocumented individuals who sustain an injury through no fault of their own often fear deportation if they pursue compensation, but the new law should help and protect them.
A little history
In Rodriguez v. Kline, 1986, a California court held that an undocumented worker was eligible to receive compensation for personal injury, including an amount for future loss of earnings, on certain conditions: The amount could be calculated on estimated earnings in the U.S. as long as there was confirmation of the worker’s efforts to correct his illegal status. If the worker was unable to show that he was working toward a visa or was otherwise trying to improve his illegal status, then any compensation he could expect to receive would be based on his future estimated earnings in his home country — in the Rodriguez case, Mexico — an amount that would likely be considerably less than it would be by U.S. standards.
The new law
Governor Jerry Brown has signed the new law, A.B. 2159, which states: “In a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death, evidence of a person’s immigration status shall not be admitted into evidence, nor shall discovery into a person’s immigration status be permitted.” This assures an injured party, or the family of the deceased, the ability to recover full and fair compensation despite undocumented status.
Protecting your rights
If you are an undocumented worker in the U.S. and the victim of a motorcycle or bicycle accident, remember that you have rights. The new law will help protect those rights. An attorney experienced with cases involving injuries to undocumented workers will explain that you can file an insurance claim to help with your medical bills and lost earnings. Legal action can be brought against the driver who caused your injuries, and all evidence related to the accident will be used to help bring the case to a successful conclusion on your behalf.