Getting into a car accident is always a traumatic experience, but it can be even more frustrating when the other driver is an undocumented immigrant. With an estimated 265,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York, car accidents involving non-citizens have become more common. Undocumented immigrants often do not have a driver’s license or insurance, even though New York recently passed a law permitting undocumented immigrants to acquire driver’s licenses in New York. This leaves injured parties wondering how they can recover compensation. Can you sue a non-citizen for personal injury?
New York Courts Have Jurisdiction in Non-Citizen Car Accident Cases
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and a non-citizen caused the accident, you do have the right to bring a lawsuit against them. As with any other personal injury lawsuit, you need to establish the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries. Under New York law, victims of personal injury accidents who have been seriously injured have a right to bring a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
When dealing with a non-citizen, the issue of jurisdiction will come into play. The plaintiff can only bring a lawsuit in New York when the New York court system has jurisdiction over the defendant.
In car accident cases that happen in New York state, New York courts will always have jurisdiction over the defendant who caused the accident. This is true even if the defendant lives in another country and is visiting New York or is an undocumented immigrant. After you file your complaint, the defendant will be required to file an answer and show up in court. If the defendant fails to show up in court, the court has the authority to enter a default judgment against them. You’ll be able to enforce that monetary judgment.
What to Do After a Car Accident With a Non-Citizen
After a car accident, you should always undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation. New York is a no-fault insurance state. You’ll need to show that you have been seriously injured to bring a lawsuit against the person or company who caused your injuries. Following through with all of your medical appointments and keeping all of your medical documentation will help you prove that you have sustained a serious enough injury to allow you to file a lawsuit.
Developing a Strategy to Obtain Compensation
We also recommend reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible. Car accident cases involving non-citizens are complex. Your attorney can develop a strategy for obtaining compensation. Unfortunately, since many undocumented immigrants do not have driver’s licenses in New York, they cannot get car insurance. The New York Division of Human Rights is attempting to make it easier for undocumented immigrants to obtain car insurance. Still, the reality is most undocumented immigrants do not have car insurance.
After you meet with your attorney, they will investigate the accident and the non-citizen you believe is responsible. Since it’s unlikely that the at-fault driver will have auto insurance that will cover your damages and medical bills, your attorney will review whether your case is worth pursuing based on other factors. For example, if a third party was involved in the accident, and the third party was wholly or partially at fault, you may want to pursue compensation against them.
If the non-citizen who caused the accident was working for a company at the time of the accident, you may have a valid legal claim for compensation against the employer. In most cases, employers will have some type of commercial liability insurance and/or the financial resources to pay for claims.
When the at-fault driver does not have car insurance, your options become more limited. You always have the option of bringing a lawsuit against the person individually. Still, in this situation, it may not be worth it to pursue a lawsuit against someone who doesn’t have the resources to pay. In other words, collecting the compensation you deserve may not be possible.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Unfortunately, in many cases involving a non-citizen, the car accident victim will need to file a claim with their own insurance company. Drivers have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage that will protect them if they are involved in a car accident with a motorist who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover their damages. Your own insurance company will take the position of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Do not assume that it will be easier to recover compensation through your insurance policy. They will still try to deny or lower the payment amount. Working with an attorney is crucial.
Discuss Your Case With an Attorney as Soon as Possible
If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident involving a non-citizen, your case will probably be more complicated than other car accident cases. The sooner you reach out to an experienced New York car accident attorney, the better. Your attorney will be able to investigate the accident and gather evidence of fault. Your attorney will also be able to help you understand your legal options, including whether or not bringing a lawsuit against the non-citizen is a viable option.
The process of filing a personal injury claim after a car accident with a non-citizen can be stressful and overwhelming. Our team at Stanley Law helps to make that process a whole lot easier. Make sure you do not get stuck paying for your bills for everything by discussing your case with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the New York car accident attorneys at Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free initial consultation. Don’t go it alone. Phone. 1-800-608-3333.