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Does citizenship status matter after a car crash?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Car Accidents

For many immigrants living in California without a valid visa, fear of deportation is a threat that haunts them every day. Although the state has made efforts to protect them, many may remain in the shadows, even if they sustained a serious injury after a car crash.

They must be aware that, regardless of their immigration status, California laws generally allow them to pursue compensation resulting from a vehicle accident. And some rules ensure their identity is kept safe during the process.

The California Values Act (S.B. 54)

In 2018, the California Values Act took effect. This law ensures that noncitizens can access local resources without exposing their legal status to immigration authorities. They can go to hospitals for a medical check-up after their accident. They do not need to tell the police, or the medical institution, about their immigration status. Further, the authorities can’t share their information unless they’re already publicly available.

The right to sue for personal injury

If the accident has led to an injury, those living in California without legal permission may still be able to sue without disclosing their legal status. They should not fear bringing a personal injury case to court either.

Although there are limitations, per California laws, the plaintiff’s immigration status may be inadmissible at trial. The law also prohibits the defendant from seeking information regarding the situation.

In addition, this law says that in case of lost income, damages must be calculated based on what the person could earn in the U.S., not in their country of origin.

Being injured after a car crash is traumatizing in itself. Worrying about citizenship status or the potential for deportation can make the situation even more frightening. Fortunately, in California, there are laws that protect people in this complicated situation.