Yes, in most cases.
Texas is home to one of the largest undocumented immigration populations in the U.S. Texas borders Mexico, and has more undocumented residents than most other states.
Under Federal and Texas State law, if you or someone you know is “undocumented” in the U.S., you still have the right to sue in a court of law. There are parts of the U.S. Constitution that protect you even if you don’t have the right immigration papers.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that the government can’t take away a person’s life, liberty or property without a fair trial. It also guarantees that the laws must protect everyone.
You are a “person” even if you’re undocumented. That means you have legal rights in this country.
You have the right to file a lawsuit in federal court even if you’re undocumented.
And in Texas, you can file a personal injury lawsuit if you have been hurt without having to prove your immigration status.
The person that was harmed and filed a lawsuit is known as the plaintiff. The person or company being sued for causing the harm is called the defendant. In Texas, several undocumented plaintiffs have filed personal injury lawsuits against the defendants that harmed them.
In the case of Grocers Supply, Inc. v. Cabello, three brothers living in the U.S. illegally were hurt when a delivery tractor trailer collided with their pickup trucks. Even though the the brothers were undocumented, they were able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas against the delivery driver’s employer.
The court ruled that the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was not created to get in the way of personal injury claims.
Even though the plaintiffs were living in the U.S. illegally as undocumented workers, they were able to recover lost wages and medical expenses from the defendants that harmed them.
If you are an undocumented person and file a personal injury case, you may be able to receive money for your medical costs, pain and suffering and money you’ve lost from being out of work.
Several Texas courts have also said that a plaintiff seeking money damages for lost wages or future earnings in a personal injury lawsuit does not need to provide citizenship or proper immigration papers.
For example, Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Guzman is another example of an undocumented worker successfully filing a personal injury in Texas. In that case the court ruled a worker can receive lost wages and future wages even if they are undocumented.
Similarly, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas said the IRCA doesn’t prevent undocumented workers from receiving damages if they file a personal injury lawsuit.
In the case of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Cordova, an undocumented resident was injured while shopping in a store. Despite her undocumented status, Ms. Cordova was permitted to receive money for her injuries.
Under premises liability laws, property owners who invite people onto their land (like a store owner who lets customers into the store), must take steps to repair dangerous conditions. They also must warn the customers if the unsafe condition is not easy to see.
Under Texas law, even if you are undocumented, workers’ compensation insurance can pay for injuries you receive while working.
The case of Commercial Standard Fire and Marine Company v. Galindo showed that even undocumented workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if they get hurt on the job.
When someone in a lawsuit gives evidence to the judge or jury by describing what happened, this is known as testimony. The person telling what happened is known as the witness. The witness testifies as to what they remember.
Many times, the other side will try to discredit the witness. They will say the witness cannot be trusted. If the witness has been untruthful in the past – for example, if the witness submitted a forged document – the other side can point to that to tell the judge or jury the witness should not be trusted.
However, in the case of TXI Transp. Co. v. Hughes, 306 S.W.3d 230 (Tex. 2010), the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that witnesses’ immigration status cannot be used in court to say they are not telling the truth. The Texas Supreme Court stated that:
That means even an undocumented plaintiff or witness can testify in a personal injury case.
It can be frightening to live as an undocumented worker in the U.S.
Many immigrants do not speak English well. Others are unfamiliar with the American legal system. The fact is, many Americans with legal citizenship do not fully understand all of their Constitutional protections, or how the courts work.
In order to protect those rights, it is important to understand the laws and how the court system works. An experienced Texas personal injury from Justinian & Associates can fight for your rights.
If you were harmed in an auto by someone else’s distracted or unsafe driving, Justinian & Associates will help prepare your case and file a lawsuit to protect your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, even if your immigration status is undocumented.
Call, text or email us for a free consultation with a seasoned personal injury attorney. We will listen to your story, and explain your rights under the law in clear, simple language. You have rights. Make sure to protect them. Contact Justinian & Associates.