Built on the strength and culture of immigrants, New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world. As such, it is home to hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers who provide much-needed services throughout the city. Unfortunately, when injured, they often are afraid to come forward to seek medical treatment, much less to file a claim for damages against a negligent or reckless person.

But state and federal laws actually support an accident victim’s right to file a claim, whether or not they are here legally.

Who Can File a Claim in New York?

Since filing a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim means dealing with large and powerful insurance companies, most undocumented immigrants worry that they will be deported if they speak up about their injuries. Some choose to avoid filing a claim altogether and simply deal with their medical expenses on their own, while the few who choose to pursue a claim may accept a lowball offer to get the process over with as soon as possible. In addition, many believe that they cannot file a claim because they are not legal citizens.

However, this is false. Just as state and federal laws regarding crimes apply to everyone in the United States, so too do civil laws. In fact, the United States Constitution actually protects an immigrant’s right to file a personal injury claim. This is contained in the 14th Amendment, which was vital to ending slavery in the United States and racial segregation. But it also allows illegal immigrants to share the same rights as United States citizens, as the state or federal government cannot deny “…any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” including the right to file a claim.

In addition, this right has been upheld in several cases in New York City. One of the most important recent cases occurred in 2006. In the case of Gorgonio Balbuena v. IDR Realty LLC, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not limit a plaintiff’s right to file a claim based on their status as a citizen. So if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a claim, even if you are an illegal immigrant.

Why You Should Not Hesitate to File a Claim

Delaying in filing a personal injury claim can be extremely foolish. While you do have up to three years to file a personal injury claim, evidence can quickly be lost if you do not act fast. Contacting an attorney as quickly as possible can ensure that all evidence of wrongdoing is accounted for and your right to compensation is upheld.

Another major issue is seeking medical treatment. After an accident, you should not hesitate to speak to a doctor, especially if you are seriously injured. The earlier you start seeing a doctor, the faster you can recover and get back to your daily life. Your first few medical reports will also provide the basis for your claim, often showing how your injuries occurred and why you are eligible for a claim. While you may be worried about medical bills, if you contact Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, shortly after your accident, we can begin working with your doctors to ensure these bills are included in your claim. This way you may not have to worry about paying for your treatment upfront and can focus on recovering. Even if you do have out-of-pocket expenses, you can have those costs reimbursed through your claim.

If you were injured due to someone else’s act of negligence, you may be well within your rights to file a claim for damages. Whether or not you are in the United States legally, the New York personal injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, can uphold your rights and advocate for the maximum compensation. Our legal team specializes in all types of personal injury claims, from medical malpractice to construction accidents to vehicle collisions. If you have been injured, we can provide the legal aid you need. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at (212) 986-7353.

Posted in: Personal Injury