If you are one of New York City’s thousands of undocumented construction workers, you may believe that you cannot file a Workers’ Compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit if you sustain injuries in a workplace accident. This is not true. You have just as much right as a U.S. citizen to receive compensation for your injury.
You may fear that if you file a lawsuit, you could face deportation if you try to go to court. However, the law is clear in New York. Back in 2006, the New York Court of Appeals upheld New York’s laws granting undocumented workers the right to have their day in civil court without fear of arrest or detainment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Another thing you need to know is that the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits never go to court. Instead, your attorney can aggressively negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company in an effort to achieve a favorable settlement for you. Your immigration status plays no part in these negotiations.
Even if the insurance company proves unreasonable and you must go to civil court, judges never require immigration status information for either party to a lawsuit. The possibility exists, of course, that the defendant’s attorney may attempt to bring up your immigration status during trial. Your attorney, on the other hand, can object to the entry of this evidence on the basis of relevance, etc. Another option for your attorney consists of filing a motion prior to trial to suppress any evidence relating to your immigration status.