Getting hurt in a motor vehicle collision can be a frightening experience, especially for those who struggle with a language barrier. English is a hard language to learn, and even those with basic skills may struggle with communicating more complex concepts.
Not being proficient or fluent in English could make it very hard to advocate for yourself at the scene of a crash. Officers responding to the crash may struggle to communicate with you and could therefore make inaccurate assumptions about who caused the crash or what factors contributed to it. Beyond that, many people dealing with the language barrier may not feel comfortable getting the help and care they need after a crash.
People who don’t speak English might forgo medical care, leading to a future of decreased mobility and increased pain, to say nothing of the fact that they potentially ruin any potential for seeking compensation over their injuries in the future. If you or a loved one has a language barrier, you should not let that prevent you from seeking medical care after a serious motor vehicle collision.
Hospitals receive federal funding, which makes them subject to federal rules
Almost all hospitals in the United States receive some sort of federal funding. Whether they receive research funds or accept Medicare and Medicaid, it is almost universal for domestic hospitals to accept some form of federal funds. Accepting those funds forces those hospitals to comply with the rules set in place by federal law.
For those with a language barrier, the pertinent law that applies to hospitals is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, Title VI of that act applies to hospitals when it prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of national origin, race or color. Failing to provide translator or interpreter services is a form of discrimination against those born in other countries and not currently fluent in English.
Although it can be hard to assert your rights when language fluency is an issue, anyone with a significant language barrier has the right to request an interpreter at the hospital.
The right care and procedures can help you seek compensation later
Many people know that if they get hurt in a car crash, they can bring a claim against the party responsible for damages that exceed the amount of insurance coverage the responsible party carried. However, the courts will typically limit the amount that someone can recover based on their own comparative liability.
Failing to seek medical evaluation, obtain treatment or follow through with a physician’s recommendation could all provide a defense against a personal injury claim on the grounds that the victim is responsible for not getting the medical care that would have reduced the impact of those symptoms.