Elaine Salgado is a bilingual paralegal at Wilson Kehoe Winingham, a personal injury/medical malpractice law firm in Indianapolis, IN. On March 13, 2014, Elaine presented at a seminar for the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. Elaine’s presentation was entitled “Misconceptions, Misunderstandings, and Misinterpretations: The Pitfalls to Avoid with Cross-Cultural Clients.” Elaine addressed a room full of attorneys and paralegals from all over the state of Indiana explaining the cultural differences in the Latino population, pointing out the importance of the attorney or paralegal to inform the Spanish speaking potential client that everything that is said to them is confidential and taking the time to explain the legal process to them. She also addressed the rights of undocumented immigrants and wage loss claims of undocumented workers. Indiana has not addressed lost wage loss claims by undocumented workers, but these claims are not generally barred. “It is important to remember that regardless of the approach taken by a particular state’s courts on the wage loss issue, an undocumented immigrant can still pursue claims against an alleged negligent party for medical expenses, pain and suffering, as well as pursuing claims for breach of contract, and that every immigrant, whether in the United States legally or not, has the right to sue those who injure him or her and is entitled to equal protection under the law. Sugarman v. Dougall, 413 U.S. 634 (1973)”.
Elaine explained when they need to hire an interpreter/translator, what type of interpreter/translator was needed, and where to go to find an interpreter/translator that is a certified court interpreter. Elaine also demonstrated how to communicate using an interpreter by speaking normally and pausing frequently to let the interpreter interpret.