The Effect of Immigration Status on Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina
Those injured as a result of another’s negligence can bring a South Carolina personal injury claim against the party or parties they believe are responsible for their injuries, regardless of the accident victim’s immigration status. However, it would be an oversimplification to say that citizens and non-citizens share the same concerns when considering filing a personal injury case. Non-citizens who are legally present in the United States may fear that filing a personal injury claim could affect their immigration status. And many non-citizens who lack documentation are legitimately concerned that filing a public lawsuit may bring their immigration status into question, potentially leading to deportation or other negative immigration consequence.
While non-citizens – both documented and undocumented – enjoy the same rights to bring a personal injury case as United States citizens, they have very different concerns. However, most of these concerns can be addressed by an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer. For starters, non-citizen accident victims who are legally in the United States can bring a claim just like any other United States citizen. The fact that they are not a United States citizen has no bearing on their ability to recover or the amount that they can recover, if successful.
The situation is a bit more complex for non-citizens who do not have documentation showing that they are legally in the county. While undocumented non-citizens still enjoy the same ability to bring a South Carolina personal injury claim, the other side will likely discover that they are not legally in the country. This could impact that party’s willingness to engage in pre-trial negotiations, knowing that the accident victim may not desire a public trial. In other words, a defendant may not be willing to negotiate because they believe the plaintiff will not file a case. Thus, having an aggressive personal injury attorney skilled in the art of negotiation is critical for non-citizens bringing a personal injury lawsuit.
However, even if a case cannot be resolved through settlement, and the case proceeds to trial, a non-citizen’s immigration status will not likely be relevant to the question of liability. In other words, the fact that someone is not legally in the country does not have any bearing on whether the defendant was negligent, and whether the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries. Thus, in many cases, a skilled personal injury lawyer can prevent the other side from bringing up an accident victim’s immigration status by filing and litigating a motion in limine.
One situation in which a plaintiff’s immigration status may be relevant is in the damages phase of the trial, after a plaintiff successfully proves the defendant was negligent. Damages in a South Carolina personal injury case can include various types of compensation, including damages for future lost wages. A claim for lost wages arises when the accident victim is unable to return to the same line of work due to their injuries. In some cases, a plaintiff cannot return to work at all, while in other cases they can return to a less demanding – and lower paying – job. Immigration status may come up because whether a plaintiff is legally allowed to work in the future is a relevant factor in the calculation of future lost wages. However, other types of damages, such as compensation for past and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering are not likely to be impacted by a plaintiff’s immigration status.
Non-citizens who have been injured in a South Carolina car accident should reach out to a personal injury law firm with experience handling cases that present these unique legal issues.
Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Law Firm for Immediate Assistance
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury after being involved in a Charleston car accident, our personal injury lawyers want to help you and your family get your lives back on track. Regardless of your immigration status, we can effectively advise you on your options and help you pursue a claim, should you choose to do so. At Steinberg Law Firm, we represent clients in all types of injury claims, including those involving serious motor vehicle accidents. Steinberg Law Firm attorneys are both skilled negotiators as well as aggressive litigators, and frequently settle client’s cases without the need for a formal trial. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you or your loved one has sustained, call 843-720-2800, or contact us through our online form. We represent clients in Charleston and throughout South Carolina. Calling is free, and because we offer a No Fee Promise, you do not pay unless we win. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you and your family through the recovery process.
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