Getting hurt when you live in America but don’t speak English well can be incredibly stressful. There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there about the rights of immigrants, whether they are formal, documented immigrants, naturalized citizens or undocumented immigrants.
If you work for an American company, you should receive workers’ compensation if you get hurt on the job regardless of your immigration status. If you are currently going through the immigration process, any claims that arise from injuries at work should not give your employer grounds to terminate you or the government the right to take action against you.
Still, the language barrier can make knowing and standing up for your rights more difficult. Even if you have good insurance, you might hesitate to seek medical care, unsure of how you would communicate effectively with the doctor or other hospital staff. It’s important for all immigrants to understand their rights, which include the right to translation services in medical facilities, just like in court.
Hospitals cannot discriminate based on national origin
The language someone speaks is almost always a reflection of their national origin, if not their culture. If someone grows up in a country that speaks French or Spanish, that will probably be the first language they learn.
When they come to the United States, many immigrants try to learn English, but it is a very difficult language. Specifically, English has a lot of irregular verbs and unusual spellings that make the language much more difficult to master then languages more based on rules, like Italian.
Hospitals provide a necessary service that benefits the entire community. They have to make themselves accessible to anyone, regardless of their background or language abilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Hospitals should provide translation services for any patients who cannot effectively communicate with hospital staff, regardless of what language that person speaks and what their immigration or financial status may be.
You have to advocate for yourself and the people you love
If you don’t speak English fluently or if you were part of an immigrant family with members who don’t speak English fluently, it’s important to understand that the language barrier makes you more vulnerable to discrimination or even criminal activity on the part of other individuals. Learning more about your rights and making sure that your family members also know their rights can prove to be of the utmost importance in a moment of medical emergency.
If your loved one doesn’t know they have a right to translation services, they might assume they won’t receive the care they need and refuse to go to the hospital. If everyone in your family understands that they have the right to request translation services when they need emergency medical care, that could make all the difference after an injury or during the onset of a serious illness.