Among the many hot topics that have arisen lately, in large part because of the heated presidential race, is the debate about the rights of undocumented immigrants. In some cases, these are, in truth, people who fought their way across our borders to escape whatever haunted them in their original homes. In other cases, they are the children of those who did so, and have only known America as their home, but have not been able to make it their legal place of residence. Whatever the reason for their being here, living in our great nation, the courts have worked to protect certain human rights for those individuals.
This extends into the personal injury category, which means that an illegal immigrant, harmed due to the negligence of some other individual or entity can, in fact, file a tort case with the courts. There are many reasons why an undocumented immigrant might seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg. However, there will undoubtedly be concerns about filing the case. There are questions that come up over and over again. The most notable of those is “will the jury be made aware of my status?” This, of course, would be a big concern, especially in the current state of turmoil surrounding the topic of immigration. The courts in Florida have made it possible for undocumented individuals to seek compensation for injuries or other harms suffered, without forcing them to reveal their immigration status to the jury.
WHAT DAMAGES CAN BE SOUGHT WITHOUT REVEALING STATUS?
There are some exceptions to the rule, but, in most cases, the status of the plaintiff will not be revealed to the jury when seeking damages for medical expenses (past and future), personal property damage or theft, funeral expenses, pain and suffering (past or future), physical injury, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, or punitive damages. The courts in Saint Petersburg, and elsewhere in the state of Florida, will hear these cases fairly and award damages based on the facts of the case, without bias for immigration status.
WHEN WILL STATUS BE REVEALED TO THE JURY?
Based on the Immigration and Control Act, the right to lawful employment in the United States is directly impacted by immigration status. Thus, undocumented immigrants who were forced to miss work, lost a job, or will be unable to perform his or her usual duties will face a different set of obstacles when seeking damages from the negligent party. That is not to say that an illegal immigrant cannot seek compensation for loss of future earnings, but adding this to the case filed against the negligent party can change the dynamics of the case. Florida courts will probably rule that because immigration does impact legal employment, the jury shall be informed of immigration status of the plaintiff if he or she seeks damages for loss of future earnings. Some juries may be harsh in the verdict delivered in the past, with the reason cited being immigration status.
The point of this piece, though, is that it is possible for undocumented immigrants to receive compensation for the losses suffered at the hands of another individual or entity, so, if you think you may have a case, do not be afraid to consult a personal injury attorney.