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How Immigration Status Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

The Haslam Firm Oct. 27, 2023

Accidents happen all the time in the United States. Collisions on the road resulting in injuries—and even fatalities—are quite common. Our highways are not the only source of personal injury accidents, of course. You can be shopping in a retail store and slip and fall on a wet floor, or perhaps you are bitten by an aggressive dog. Maybe you’ve been exposed to toxic substances at your workplace. 

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you understand that you have the right to pursue a claim or a personal injury lawsuit—but foreign nationals residing here, especially those without a Green Card or LPR (lawful permanent resident) status, are often led to believe that they have no legal rights. They can potentially feel helpless when someone else causes them harm. 

It’s natural to feel worried, but you must remember: you have options. One of these options is filing a lawsuit. 

If you are a non-citizen foreign national who has been injured because of someone else’s negligence in or around Fort Worth, Texas, contact us at The Haslam Firm. Our legal team of personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys will help you pursue your claim for compensation for the injuries you suffered, even if it means a personal injury lawsuit is called for. We proudly serve clients throughout the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, as well as the rest of Texas. 

The Right to Sue for Non-Citizens

One of the Constitutional changes brought about because of the Civil War was the 14th Amendment. Section 1 addresses the rights of persons on U.S. soil, stating: “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

“Equal protection of the laws” means that non-citizens as well as citizens have the same right to pursue justice through the court and law enforcement systems. In other words, non-citizens can file claims and lawsuits equally with citizens. Thus, if you suffer injuries or harm due to someone else’s negligence as a non-citizen, you have every right to pursue a claim or lawsuit. Consult with our team of attorneys and let’s start moving forward. You deserve to seek justice. 

Workers’ Compensation and Non-Citizen Employees

As a condition of employment in the U.S., job applicants and employees are asked to prove their right to work here through the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification process. Still, some employers hire non-citizens anyway, and some foreign nationals submit fabricated “proof.” Leaving aside the question of the legality of all this, how does it affect a non-citizen worker who is injured on the job? Will this worker be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? 

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system covering employees who are injured on the job or fall ill due to workplace conditions such as toxic exposure. Workers’ compensation will then cover medical expenses and reimburse a worker who misses time from their job to recover. Texas is unique in that it is the only state where employers can choose not to buy workers’ compensation insurance. If an employer chooses not to have workers’ compensation coverage, then an injured employee may be able to sue. 

If a Texas employer does have workers’ compensation coverage, however, then an employee lawsuit is off the table. This then brings up the question of whether a non-citizen—who is typically not eligible to be employed in the first place—qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. In Texas, the answer is yes. Not all states agree, but Texas law does provide for workers’ compensation benefits for non-citizen employees. 

Will I Be Deported for Filing a Claim?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are not allowed to deport a non-citizen who is involved in civil matter such as a personal injury claim or lawsuit.  

It would be viewed as an obstruction of justice and a violation of rights under the 14th Amendment. In fact, not one non-citizen to date has been deported while involved in such a civil action. 

Damages Available

In a personal injury claim, a non-citizen (or citizen) is entitled to potential damages, or compensation, for: 

  • Medical and associated expenses resulting from the injury 

  • Wages lost while being unable to work during the time while injured 

  • Pain and suffering 

  • Emotional trauma from the event 

These damages are available if you can prove the other party’s negligence resulted in your injuries. Consult with us and we will review the circumstances and determine fault and negligence. 

Rely on Our Experienced Guidance

At The Haslam Firm, our attorneys are well-versed and widely experienced in both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. Injuries to people in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston areas is our sole focus. We strive to put you and your loved ones in a position to move forward. Reach out to our team today.