Articles Posted in Farmworker Injuries

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I tend to get a lot of immigrant and Spanish speaking clients.  Could be because I speak fluent Spanish and am married to a Guatemalan.  I hope it is also because word spreads in the immigrant community that I get good results.

Anyway, the guy standing with me in the photo above is from Nicaragua.  One day as he was riding his bicycle to work (on the shoulder of the road, just as he was supposed to) near Rochester, NY, a car swiped him from behind and never bothered stopping.  We call that a hit and run.  The next thing he remembers is waking up all bloodied in a ditch, with a piece of broken car mirror next to him.

My Nicaraguan friend had bad injuries but also has a tough, fighting spirit.  He got back to work only five months after his accident so he could put food on the table for his wife and two children. Hard working Nicaraguan immigrant! I admire him and all the other hard-working immigrants I have had the privilege of representing.

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As a New York personal injury lawyer, my job is to fight my hardest on behalf of each and every one of my clients.  And so I do.  But I would be lying if I said I liked all my clients to the same degree.  Just like teachers have their “pets”, lawyers have their favorite clients.  You are looking at some of my favorite clients ever in the photos above.

The seven men shown in these photos all came into the USA illegally and worked here illegally, too.  Some of you who are reading this will now instantly dislike them.  Please don’t.  Please forgive them for breaking a few rules.  They are not criminals, rapists or murderers (as some politicians will have you believe).  They are simple peasants with only second or third grade educations who needed to support their families back home in Guatemala and Mexico.

Once here, they worked brutally long and hard hours in upstate New York’s vegetable fields from spring to summer, and then in Florida’s orange groves in winter.  They were sending almost every penny they earned back home to feed small hungry mouths.

1236746_10201899072505171_1829587463_n.jpgI’m posting this blog from my hotel here in Guatemala City where I am hanging out with my two clients, Hugo and Lucio, shown in the photo with me. You guessed it, I’m the tall one.

I already blogged about why this Central NY injury lawyer had to come all the way to Guatemala to take their testimony. Today’s blog is about how much I admire these guys. Why? They are outstanding fathers.

Several years ago they realized the three dollars a day they were earning working the corn fields in their pueblo wasn’t ever going to fill the hungry little mouths at home. So they did something about it. They “went north”, as they call the trek to the United States around here.

beam me up.jpgNext Tuesday I’ll be jumping on a plane to Central America. But I won’t be on vacation. I’ll be representing my Guatemalan clients as they get deposed, remotely, by video, from Syracuse, NY. There’ll be an interpreter with us.

How did I end up in Guatemala on a case? That story made the front page of the New York Law Journal and the Syracuse Post Standard. I blogged about that here.

Technology has changed every aspect of law practice. A few decades ago, what is about to transpire would have been impossible. Your Central NY injury lawyer will be sitting next to his clients in Guatemala City while insurance defense lawyers in Syracuse New York ask them questions by video. We will see those lawyers on the screen, and they will see my clients. They will be face to face. It’s kind of like Star Trek. “Beam me up, Scotty”! The video of my clients will later be presented to the jury.

Thumbnail image for iStock_000002257510Small.jpgSpanish speaking injury lawyer in all central New York counties, including Onondaga, Seneca, Oswego, Ontario, Tioga, Orleans, Wayne and Jefferson Counties. And all these counties have an abundance of Mexican and Guatemalan farm workers tending to our apple orchards, grape vineyards and onion fields.

Second, about one half of all Mexican and Guatemalan farm workers in this area are “illegal”. Actually, I prefer the term “undocumented” immigrants to “illegal”. No person is “illegal”. Crossing the border without legal permission to do so is not a crime, nor is working or living here without legal permission. These are considered civil violations, not criminal ones. That is why when an undocumented immigrant is apprehended, he is not tried for a crime or given a prison sentence. Instead he is merely deported or “removed”, which means he is sent back to his country.

Under our laws, anyone who is injured because of the negligence or wrongdoing of another has a right to bring a claim for compensation for the injuries he or she suffered, regardless of his or her legal status in this country.

And rightly so. If this were not the law, employers and others would have an incentive to abuse undocumented aliens, subjecting them to extremely dangerous working and living conditions. They could do so without having to worry about paying compensation for any injuries the undocumented workers suffered as a consequence. Such a rule would create an unacceptably dangerous environment.

I am proud to represent injured Mexican and Guatemalan farm workers in their injury claims, regardless of their legal status in this country. From my years of experience representing them, I have learned that they are extremely hard-working, honest and even courageous people. They don’t complain or whine. They only come to me when they are so injured they can’t work. When they can work, they work long, hard hours, in dangerous jobs, for low pay, and scrimp and save every dime to send to their wives, children, and sometimes their little brothers and sisters. They come to the United States for only two reasons; to pull their families back home out of dire poverty, and to work hard.

If undocumented immigrants are injured because of someone’s negligence or wrongdoing while here, I will do everything I can to get them every dime they are entitled to, just as I do for all my clients.

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