In August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that prohibits the admission
or discovery of evidence related to a person’s immigration status in
California personal injury and wrongful death cases. Assembly Bill 2159 becomes effective on January 1, 2017.
Existing state law generally establishes that a person's immigration
status is irrelevant to issues of civil liability. However, in
Rodriguez v. Kline, a California Court of Appeal held that an undocumented worker injured
in the United States is not entitled to be compensated based upon his
or her projected earning capacity in the United States, but rather may
recover future lost wages based on projected earning capacity in the worker's
country of lawful citizenship.
As highlighted by
proponents of AB 2159, the defendants in injury cases rely on
Rodriguez to “leverage the fear of deportation against undocumented plaintiffs
in order to reduce or even eliminate claims for future lost income and,
increasingly, to limit future medical damages to what the injured person
would expect to pay for medical care in the plaintiff's country of
origin, rather than in the U.S. where he or she lives but where medical
costs are typically much higher.”
Accordingly, the new law, sponsored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San
Diego), aims to guarantee that injury victims obtain fair compensation
for their injuries and medical costs, regardless of their immigration
status. “"When injustices are committed in California, the
parties responsible should be held to California's standards, it's
that simple," Gonzalez stated.
AB 2159 amends Section 351.2 of the California Evidence Code. The new provision
specifically states: “In a civil action for personal injury or wrongful
death, evidence of a person’s immigration status shall not be admitted
into evidence, nor shall discovery into a person’s immigration status
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured due to someone else’s
negligence, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation. We work tirelessly on behalf of all injury victims.