Getting into a car crash as an undocumented immigrant, green card holder, or student visa recipient can be terrifying. On top of worrying about your injuries, you may wonder how you’re going to report the crash, what will happen will happen with insurance, if the police will get involved, and how you’ll cover your medical bills.
We understand how overwhelming and stressful it feels, but the most important thing is remembering the do’s and don’ts and understanding your ability to pursue damages for the car crash. Here’s how it all works.
The Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t be afraid or intimidated! As an immigrant, you still have the right to pursue damages from those responsible for a serious car crash, whether you were driving or were struck while crossing the street. It’s imperative that you report the crash and stay at the scene.
Treat the crash like anyone else would and follow all the necessary steps to make sure you start your case on the right foot. These include some of the following:
Check for Injuries
Immediately after the crash, take a deep breath and check for injuries. If you see blood or suspect you have a broken bone, you should call an ambulance at the scene or at least make sure you go straight to the hospital after the crash. Don’t worry about how you’ll pay for the care you receive, the most important thing is securing your health and making sure your injuries are treated as soon as possible.
If it is safe to do so, you should try to collect as much evidence about the crash as possible. Start by taking photos of both vehicles on all four sides and any visible injuries. If there are any witnesses nearby, ask if they’d stay to make a statement when the police arrive.
Next, you’ll need to get the other driver’s insurance information. This can be a tense situation because you need the other driver’s information to file a claim, but if you don’t have insurance you can’t give them anything in exchange. If the other driver is reluctant to give you their information, you should be able to get it from the police report.
Get a Police Report
A police report is, perhaps, the most crucial piece of evidence you can have after a crash, especially as an immigrant. The police report demonstrates that a crash occurred, includes the information of everyone involved, and is a publicly available document.
Remember that leaving the scene before you have the police report could make it much more difficult to claim damages. While you can file a police report online after the crash, filing in person is much easier and allows police to verify the information of those involved and take witness statements.
While providing information for the police report, do not disclose anything about your immigration status, even if asked directly. Your attorney can handle those questions on your behalf.
See a Doctor
After leaving the scene of the crash, you should see a doctor or urgent care provider as soon as possible. Often, the adrenaline from a car crash can numb you to the pain from your injuries. A doctor can conduct a physical examination that will help determine if you suffered broken bones or other internal injuries.
Going to the doctor also creates a paper trail demonstrating your injuries were the direct result of the crash. It tells the other driver’s insurance that your injuries are serious and warranted immediate treatment.
If you don’t have health insurance or you’re worried about how you’ll pay your medical bills, you should contact an experienced immigrant personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you establish continued care so you can receive the treatment you need until you receive your settlement.
Understanding Your Rights
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, your immigration status has no impact on your right to pursue justice for your injuries. In America, everyone is entitled to due process under the law and to pursue damages for injuries, lost wages, and property damage.
However, the insurance company may attempt to use your immigration status against you or may attempt to overwhelm you with questions and paperwork. For that reason, the best thing any immigrant can do after a car crash is consult a personal injury attorney with a strong understanding of immigration law. With their help, you have the best possible chance of earning the compensation you need to move forward.
If you were involved in a car crash and you’re worried about how your immigration status might impact your case, you should speak to an attorney. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Orlando immigrant personal injury attorney from The Sekou Clarke Law Group, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (407) 269-8774.