The aftermath of a car accident is challenging to navigate. Victims often don’t have any idea where to turn to for help. It’s even worse for undocumented people in Texas, who often fear that reaching out for help will threaten the life they’ve worked hard to build in this country. It’s crucial for these individuals to know that they do have rights, regardless of immigration status and to be aware of what those rights are. Here’s everything undocumented people need to know if they get into a car crash.
Should Undocumented People Call The Police After A Car Accident?
It may seem counterintuitive, but calling the police after a crash is better than not contacting them for undocumented people. Not reporting a crash and fleeing the scene actually causes more problems. Doing this could result in criminal charges and more severe immigration consequences.
It’s important to note that if a person involved in a crash doesn’t have documentation like a driver’s license, proof of insurance or vehicle registration, even if they didn’t cause the accident, the police could detain them.
Is It Safe For Them To Get Medical Care After A Crash?
Getting medical attention after a car crash is crucial, both for a person’s well-being and for a potential personal injury claim. Accident victims should see a doctor as soon as possible and retain all treatment records.
Undocumented people may fear going to a hospital due to a lack of insurance or fears of having their immigration status reported to the authorities. However, they can rest assured that their immigration status is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal law that protects patients’ personal and health information from being shared without their consent or knowledge.
This means their immigration status cannot be shared unless it’s for purposes directly related to their treatment, paying for their treatment or other hospital operations. Health care workers who break this law could suffer legal consequences. There is no reason why a health care worker should ask about a person’s immigration status or report it to the authorities.
Additionally, undocumented people may be able to get health coverage through Medicare. The eligibility requirements are that they must have an emergency medical condition, live in Texas and intend to continue living in Texas. Undocumented people do not need to provide a Social Security number.
Are Undocumented People Entitled To Take Legal Action?
The good news is that accident victims can still pursue a personal injury claim even if:
- They are undocumented.
- They have no insurance.
- The police detain them.
- They go to jail.
- They are deported from the country.
Everyone has this right under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
When an undocumented person files a personal injury claim, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other government agencies don’t receive notification of the action or the person’s immigration status.
It’s illegal for insurance companies not to pay settlements based on claimants’ immigration status.
If a person’s case goes to trial, their immigration status will remain protected. It is inadmissible in court, and the other side isn’t allowed to ask about it.
The idea of taking legal action is intimidating, especially for undocumented people. But there are legal protections in place for them. An experienced personal injury attorney can help accident victims explore their legal options.