What do you do when you are out of state on vacation, visiting family, or working, and you suffer injury? Filing for a personal injury lawsuit can be complicated o it’s own. If the injury occurs out of your home state, you may not know how to proceed. You can still pursue an out-of-state injury claim, however, when you are injured in another state the process might be different in a few ways.
When filing for a lawsuit in a certain state or country, the court you are filing in has to have jurisdiction over your case. The state in which you are filing must have jurisdiction over the defendant, which could be a person, business, or any entity responsible for your injuries. One of the ways to make sure the court has jurisdiction over the defendant is to simply sue in the place where the accident occurred. It does not matter if the defendant is from that particular state or country. If you sue in the state in which the accident and injury occurred, the court will have jurisdiction over the defendant.
In some situations, you can still sue in your home state. You can still sue in your home state if the person or entity that you are suing has “minimum contacts” with your home state. Minimum contacts refers to “the level of a nonresident defendant’s connection with or activity in a state that is sufficient under due process to support the assertion of personal jurisdiction under a long-arm statute.” Some examples of contacts could be a company that does business in your home state, a person who has a home in your home state, or a business or person who is party to a contract formed in your home state.
Basically, if the person or entity you are suing has made use of the rights and benefits in your home state in any way, then you should be able to sue them in your home state. Keep in mind, however, that it is not always the best option to choose to sue in your home state. Despite the distance and inconvenience, it may be in your best interest to sue outside your home state, depending on the laws and the specifics of your situation.
After you have decided whether you can or should sue in your home state or in the state where the accident occurred, you will have to decide whether the case should take place in state or federal court. In general, federal courts deal with matters between parties with “diverse citizenship,” which usually refers to parties from different states, which involved damages of at least $75,000. Federal courts also deal with cases that involve a federal question, meaning the case involves a federal law or constitutional rights.
Most cases that can be filed in federal court can be filed in state court as well. So if your case could be filed in either state or federal court, talk with your attorney to figure out which court would be the ideal place to take your out-of-state injury claim.