Many people from immigrant communities are unsure whether or not they can pursue a personal injury claim where they are not at fault if they are undocumented. California Evidence Code 351.2 addresses this concern.
Evidence code 351.2 (a) states: “In a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death, evidence of a persons immigration status shall not be admitted into evidence, nor shall discovery into a person’s immigration status be permitted.”
This is an extremely important law for immigrant and undocumented communities because too often, non-citizen victims of an accident (car accident, slip, and fall, dog bite, assault, etc.) have little knowledge as to their rights. The average person may know that they should, in theory, be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering but they become worried that they will be deported or may face immigration consequences if they enter into civil litigation as a non-citizen. The current xenophobic political climate and frequent ICE raids that have been impacting undocumented communities in California exacerbate this fear.
But, it is essential to know your full rights. As a victim of an accident where you are NOT at fault, you are entitled to fair compensation for your injuries.
Some insurance defense attorneys and adjusters will often raise the issue and question of a person’s immigration status. They do this to intimidate potential claimants with the hope that you will take a low and unfair offer or drop your claim. That is why it is crucial that you know and understand your rights and the protection afforded to you under evidence code §351.2. Additionally, this is why it is essential to have an attorney who is up to date on laws that affect undocumented communities and who know how to protect you in your lawsuit. I represent both undocumented and documented clients, but I maintain a firm stand and refuse to let a defense attorney or adjuster inquire as to my client’s immigration status. Case law in California generally favors this position, but there can be individual cases where immigration status may need to be discussed. That is another reason why it is essential to have an attorney who can fight vigorously for you and prevent any adverse immigration consequences for you.