You may have heard people say that only U.S. residents can file personal injury cases. If you get injured in a car accident, they’ll say, you may not be able to sue the person who caused the crash if you’re not a citizen of the United States. This would mean that you would remain liable for direct costs like medical care, lost wages and more, even if someone else caused your harm.
It’s important to understand that this is not true. Even if someone is an undocumented immigrant, there are situations in which they could filed a lawsuit in the United States – such as if they’ve been injured by another’s conduct or if they think they’re being mistreated in some way. These lawsuits could also originate with permanent residents or others who may be legally living in the United States, but who also may not be actual citizens of the country.
A law professor from the University of Pennsylvania weighed in on this misconception back when it was making the rounds on social media. She noted that any immigrant within the U.S. should be granted equal access to the courts. There is no state law or federal law that would exclude these individuals. No Supreme Court decisions have changed this fundamental right, despite the misinformation sometimes found online.
Could someone’s status impact the complexity of their case?
Of course, immigration status could make things a bit more complex. Someone may be concerned about starting a personal injury case, for example, because they don’t want to bring attention to the fact that they are undocumented. They may be worried that they would get deported, even if they know that they do technically have the right to sue. This is where seeking legal guidance can help injury victims to better understand their rights and options under the law so that they can make informed decisions accordingly.
Have you been injured?
Perhaps you have recently been injured in a car accident or some other traumatic event caused by another party. If you are worried that you can’t start a personal injury lawsuit and you are going to be looking at a lot of financial debt in the months and years to come as a result, it’s important to know that you do have rights and options. Be sure you understand what legal steps you can take under U.S. law, regardless of your status. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.