Written by: Michaella Radich
Representing immigrants in personal injury cases presents many challenges for attorneys. Unfortunately, because of the unlawful and undocumented status of many immigrants living in the United States, they are commonly employed in low-paying, dangerous jobs, typically in construction, agriculture, and manufacturing. Many undocumented immigrants don’t report the crimes, abuses, or injustices they experience on the job out of fear of being deported.
There are two categories of unauthorized immigrants: those who entered the country without inspection, and those who were inspected, but have stayed past the date on their visas. All unauthorized immigrants face potential detention or deportation. But, it is possible for immigrant clients to obtain lawful immigration status through work authorization cards, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, stays of removal, or requests for humanitarian parole.
Representing an unlawful immigrant is an ethical challenge for attorneys. A lawyer who represents a client involved in fraudulent conduct is required to take remedial measures, which in some cases involves disclosure to the tribunal. While entering the country illegally and working undocumented are not necessarily felonies, pretending to be a U.S. citizen by obtaining false paperwork is a felony. In personal injury cases, it is crucial that the attorney is aware of the client’s status, so he or she can comply with all ethical standards.
A large number of undocumented immigrants are paid under the table, which raises questions about available insurance coverage. It must be determined if the worker is considered an employee or an independent contractor. Courts will consider a variety of factors involving the employers’ right to control in making this determination. Seeking workers’ compensation benefits may provide the quickest recovery, while nullifying potential tort recovery. If seeking tort recovery, then questions about liability claims are raised. Generally speaking, commercial liability policies contain an independent contractor exclusion that rules out coverage for bodily injury of independent contractors.
Vocational and economic loss issues are arguably the most important aspect of the immigrant worker’s case. Questions often arise involving the worker’s ability to seek recovery of loss, and impairment of future earning capacity. Jurisdictions are split on whether or not immigrant workers are able to recover future lost earnings as damages in the tort action.
Blick Law Firm has over 40 years of experience in providing high-quality legal representation and counsel in several areas of practice, including immigration and personal injury law. If you or a loved one have questions regarding immigration or personal injury, call 888-973-2776 to speak with one of our trusted attorneys today! For more information, (Click Here).