Attorney Rob Kornfeld Helps Change Immigration Law Through Injury Claim Win

Attorney Rob Kornfeld Helps Change Immigration Law Through Injury Claim Win

Attorney Rob Kornfeld is a Washington personal injury attorney with 38 years of experience. He knows the pain people go through when seeking compensation because he suffered a serious car accident in 1985, which fueled his passion for representing those injured by the negligence of another. But his experience goes further, as he has actually played an instrumental role in changing the way Washington State approaches injury claims for lost wages, recovery of medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering caused by a negligent person injuring an undocumented immigrant.

Back in April 2010, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that a person’s immigration status is not relevant to the recovery of damages for past, present or future earnings in an injury claim. The ruling came about due to Attorney Kornfeld’s 13 years of hard work on the case of Alex Salas v. Hi-tech Erectors, which was appealed three (3) times and ultimately, along with the help of now current Supreme Court Judge Charlie Wiggins, we won in the Washington Supreme Court. Because of Kornfeld’s persistent and an unwavering pursuit of justice for the those who are injured and not represented, Rob was able to change the state’s laws for the better protecting undocumented immigrants and workers who are injured by the fault of another.

A Work Injury Changes Everything

Alex Salas fell off a non-WISHA-approved scaffolding ladder while at work, suffering extensive back, hip, wrist, and ankle injuries. He was never expected to return to work in the construction industry, and the new sedentary work he found paid much less. It was reasonably calculated he suffered future economic wage loss of around $500,000.

Attorney Rob Kornfeld took Alex’s work injury claim, and demanded a policy limit of $1,000,000 in compensation to pay for lost wages, as well as medical costs and pain and suffering. The defendant, Hi-tech Erectors, did not comply, offering absolutely nothing. Given that the defendant would not pay a dime, the case went into trial.

Unexpected Complications Due to Immigrant Status

Only days before the trial, the defense counsel unexpectedly asked during a deposition whether or not Alex was a legal immigrant. Why that would matter was not immediately clear, since someone who is wrongfully injured is wrongfully injured, no matter where they call home. However, after it was discovered that Alex’s visa had expired and he had technically been living in the United States and paying taxes as an undocumented immigrant for more than 15 years, the defense showed its full hand. They intended to argue that if Alex was entitled to any lost wages or if any were awarded it should be based on wage rates he would have possibly earned in Mexico, his home country. Not only would that number likely be much less, it would also be nearly impossible to calculate, drastically complicating the case.

Attorney Kornfeld moved his case forward by presenting ample evidence that showed Alex never intended to leave and go back Mexico and that he had not gone back in the last 16 years. Indeed, Alex had started a family, bought a house, paid taxes, had children in Everett and so forth. He argued that since Alex intended to stay in America with his loving family and work that he enjoyed, it would be unreasonable to try to say his wages should be based on wage rates in another country.

Jury Selection & Trial Exposes Societal Biases

During the jury selection process, or voir dire, Attorney Kornfeld asked if someone’s immigration status should preclude their right to sue for fair compensation in the USA. To his surprise, most of the jury said it did. The mostly-white jury had apparently decided that the wage rates in Mexico should apply to an undocumented immigrant.

Ultimately, this bias showed itself again by the end of the trial. The verdict found the defendant did act negligently, but somehow did not cause Alex to suffer any damages. Imagine if someone admitted to tripping you down the stairs but then claimed that act did not cause your injuries from the fall. It sounds unfathomable, but this was the situation Rob and Alex had found themselves in.

Undeterred, Attorney Kornfeld Presses On For His Client

Knowing that something was very off with the trial’s outcome, Attorney Kornfeld appealed the case result. He enlisted the help of Charlie Wiggins to take the appellate case up to the Washington Supreme Court after he lost in the Court of Appeals Div. 1 in Seattle. Rob sought the assistance of other lawyers who would assist him to marshal all efforts to win on appeal. Together, this eclectic and talented team of legal professionals, banded together with Rob’s efforts and direction, all jointly stood up for Alex’s rights, and for the rights of other undocumented immigrants in Washington and submitted a strong appellate argument to get a new trial.

The appellate case to the Supreme Court proved to be a success. The Washington Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and ordered a new trial. Furthermore, the Supreme Court blamed bias to be the motivating factor behind the lower court jury decisions, going as far as to reason that there was an “abuse of the trial court’s discretion” that evidence of his undocumented status should never have been heard or considered by this jury, which found fault but awarded no damages. With the jury verdict reversed, Alex got a new trial. This change the rule in our state and affected ruling across the USA. The ruling was now official that immigration status could never be considered  by a jury in personal injury cases, particularly those involving lost wages. Thanks to Attorney Rob Kornfeld, the law has now changed for the better and is designed to help those by barring evidence of immigration status.

Hire an Attorney Who Really Cares About You

If you are ever seriously hurt at no fault of your own in Washington, call or contact Kornfeld Law for legal representation from an experienced and determined lawyer who has demonstrated decades of true compassion,  38 years of trial experience and admirable tenacity seeking justice for his clients, which can be harnessed to help you. After suffering a bad car accident in 1985, Rob was driven to use his personal experiences as an injured person to assist him in understanding what you also may be going through after your injury. His experience as a seasoned trial attorney and personally understanding what it means to be an injured victim as you, all helps to better serve those wrongfully injured. All Rob Kornfeld does is to represent Plaintiffs like Alex Salas. He is capable of taking on the most complex and difficult cases to trial if a reasonable settlement cannot be achieved just like in Alex Salas v. Hi-tech Erectors  in which Robert Kornfeld tried this case two times to a jury with -0- offers on each case. See what he can do for you by contacting his law firm now. Put his experience to work for you!

You can contact Attorney Rob Kornfeld by using an online contact form, by email, or by dialing (425) 657-5255 to arrange a FREE consultation. He proudly represents the injured in Kirkland, Bellevue, Everett, Seattle and throughout Washington State.


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