CAN MY IMMIGRATION STATUS AFFECT MY VIRGINIA CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Car accidents, truck accidents, and pedestrian accidents happen all of the time, especially in Northern Virginia. These accidents can range from modest to severe, and some can even have fatal consequences. Unfortunately, a whole mess of laws make the claim process unclear.
The confusion surrounding car accident claims can be made much worse for people who are not US Citizens. If you have been in a car accident, and are not a US Citizen, you may worry: will my car accident case affect my immigration status?
Car Accidents and Immigration Law
If you have been hurt in a car or truck accident that was not your fault, you have the right the make a claim against the person (or persons, or companies) who caused your injuries. This is true for US Citizens, Naturalized Aliens, Green Card holders, and also illegal immigrants. A person’s legal status does not take away an injured person’s right to speak to a car accident attorney, and file a claim.
Virginia car accident cases are civil proceedings, meaning that they are not criminal in nature. They are also not federal (1). The only quasi-criminal proceeding arising out of most traffic accidents is a traffic ticket, like a citation for speeding or running a red light. These are usually given to the tortfeasor, or person who is responsible for the accident.
Can The Insurance Company Threaten To Report Me To ICE If I File A Claim?
No, absolutely not. This would be a direct violation of the Virginia Fair Claims Practices Act, which requires insurance adjusters to investigate and resolve meritorious claims. They will investigate the facts of an accident, and search for information to see if the claimant (person bringing the claim) is credible, but a person’s immigration status is not part of that review.
However, this law only applies to licensed insurance adjusters. A person at the scene of an accident can make such crass threats, however. Threats from rude people should ever stop you from speaking to an attorney - to the contrary, you should call an attorney right away.
Can They Talk about my Immigration Status in Court?
In Virginia Courts, no - the defense lawyers cannot raise your immigration status before a Judge or Jury. The Virginia Supreme Court decided this in 1981, in the Petersen v Neme case, and it has been binding precedent ever since. Binding precedent means that it is the law in all Virginia courts, in all cities and counties.
Please note that this is not the same for Maryland court cases, which we will be discussing in a later article.
So When Should I Call an Attorney?
If you have been hurt in a Virginia car crash, then you need to speak to a Virginia car accident attorney right away. The sooner you get an attorney, the sooner the attorney can start working for you. A good attorney will start investigating your claim immediately! At Blaszkow Legal, that is exactly what we do. As soon as you become our client, we set our team to work research the case, and gather evidence.
What If I Don’t Have Health Insurance? How Will I Pay for the Hospital?
We always try to get our clients’ medical bills paid by health insurance, if possible. This includes Medicare and Medicaid, if they have it. However, many clients who are not US Citizens either do not have, or are not eligible for health insurance.
In this instance, we connect the client with a medical provider who will work on an Assignment-basis. An Assignment is a legal document meaning that the doctor and the doctor’s practice won’t demand payment up-front. Instead, they agree to wait to collect their bills once the case is settled, or a Judgement is received, if the case went to Court.
But remember - a doctor does not work on a contingency-fee basis, like your lawyer. The doctor is only agreeing to wait to collect on the bill. However, the practices that we know in the area will generally work with our clients to set up payment arrangements, if for some reason the client does not win his case.
What If I was in a car accident in a work truck or work van?
Work trucks and vans get involved in accidents, and these cases can be complicated because of the number of passengers. As long as you were not at fault for the accident, then you and any other passenger who was hurt have a potential claim against the person who caused the accident. You need to call a skilled work truck accident attorney immediately.
If you are working at the time, you may have a claim for Worker’s Compensation - in which case, you need to speak to a Worker’s Compensation lawyer.
If you have specific questions about your immigration case, you need to speak to an Immigration Lawyer, such as our neighbor, Haider Semaisim.
You should never be afraid to speak to an attorney, whether for immigration issues, or personal injury matters. Our team of car accident lawyers, paralegals, and investigators is ready to work for all clients, no matter where they come from, or how they got here. You have rights, and we fight hard for you and your family - call Blaszkow Legal today: 703-879-5910
1 - This does not include claims against US Government vehicles, or claims on federal property, which are subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act.
2 - Peterson v. Neme, 281 S.E.2d 869 (1981)