By Angela Barbosa
Many immigrants involved in car accidents are unware that regardless of immigration status, they have the right to sue for injuries caused by the negligence of others, and have the right to claim earnings lost as a result of their injuries.
In a recent court ruling received by the Danbury law firm of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith, immigrants in Connecticut had an important legal win. The Superior Court in Litchfield ruled that in a personal injury claim, the defense was prohibited in asking any questions regarding immigration status, requesting documentation regarding status and/or asking questions related to entry into the country.
Attorney Robert A. Shrage of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith argued that questions such as the above are not reasonable and do not lead to the discovery of admissible evidence relevant to a personal injury claim. Instead, such questions were designed to intimidate, oppress and harass the plaintiff.
That strategy has discouraged undocumented immigrants from claiming compensation for their losses and injuries. Unable to speak English and tragically unaware that they have the right to retain a lawyer who can secure all of the same benefits that a U.S. citizen is entitled to under the same circumstances, immigrant workers in this situation are often gripped by a powerful fear that making a claim will result in immediate deportation. However, the fact of the matter is that such a fear is far from the truth because the court agreed and ordered the protection of the plaintiff.
In addition, the court ordered that the defense could not inquire into plaintiffs’ identification documents submitted to receive a driver’s license, whether they have a green card, visa or passport, whether they are a U.S. citizen or a citizen of another country, whether they have a social security number or other tax identification number or the manner in which they entered this country.
This decision will have tremendous impact in the State of Connecticut and its large immigrant community, according to Attorney Shrage.
“Often many members of our community shy away from pursuing personal injury claims for fear that their immigration status will come into question,” Attorney Shrage said. “This new ruling gives immigrants the ability to pursue a personal injury claim and alleviates the financial pressures resulting from mounting medical bills and treatment. It further allows them to seek compensation for their pain and suffering, without requiring them to live in fear regarding their immigration status.”
Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith Law Firm, founded by Attorney Americo S. Ventura, has been serving the Danbury, CT area for more than 55 years. With its main locations in Danbury and Bridgeport, 16 attorneys and over 40 staff represent clients throughout the state of Connecticut. Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith focuses on personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and workers’ compensation, mass torts and complex pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. For more information, visit VRSLaw.com or call 203.800.8000.
Photo: Attorney Robert A. Shrage of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith