If you are injured in a car accident, you may wonder where to file a lawsuit if you were traveling out of state when it happened. It is critical to speak with one of our Louisiana auto accident lawyers to determine who is liable and where you should file your lawsuit.

How to Determine Jurisdiction

You must establish jurisdiction before proceeding to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. A court’s jurisdiction is defined by its right and authority to render decisions and judgments. Your lawyer can help you understand the types of jurisdiction before you file your claim. These are subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction.

Subject matter jurisdiction

The term subject matter jurisdiction refers to the state court’s ability to hear almost any claim except those the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. For car accidents, states may agree to hear cases involving accidents on their roads, regardless of where the parties involved reside.

A Louisiana court may have subject matter jurisdiction over an out-of-state driver who causes an accident in Louisiana. Regardless of whether you and the other driver are Louisiana residents, you must appear in Louisiana court if your accident occurs on a Louisiana road or highway.

Personal jurisdiction

A court’s personal jurisdiction pertains to a person being sued in a case. The state has jurisdiction over its citizens. If a Texas resident travels to Louisiana for the weekend and gets injured in a car accident, they may be unable to file in their home state. Although the plaintiff (injury victim) is from Texas, the defendant (at-fault driver) resides in Louisiana, so the plaintiff may have to file the action there.

Can You Bring Your Personal Injury Claim to Federal Court?

The federal court system has subject matter jurisdiction if your case pertains to federal law. For cases involving auto accidents in federal court, there generally has to be diversity of citizenship (residing in different states or nations) among the parties and the plaintiff must be seeking at least $75,000 in damages.

A federal court will not consider the case unless the two conditions above are met. Federal courts require complete diversity of citizenship before your case will be heard. As a result, no two defendants or plaintiffs can be from the same state. All parties must maintain a primary residence in the state in which they reside, and a party may only be a resident of one state at a time (for example, a student attending college out of state could not be considered a resident of both their home state and the state where they attend school).

What if You Were in a Car Accident with a Business?

If an employee of a company injures you, you can sue them in the state where the accident occurred or where the company is located. Businesses are legally considered residents of the state where they are incorporated and the state where they have their primary place of business.

If you suffer injury in a commercial truck accident, you have the right to sue the trucking company. If, for example, the trucking company who employs the driver who hit you is based in New Orleans, you would not bring the case to federal court as it does not meet diversity jurisdiction because all parties are Louisiana residents.

However, you can generally sue a business under Louisiana’s long-arm statute if they are contracting within the state’s jurisdiction. To be subject to Louisiana law, the corporation must supply services or goods or engage in business transactions within the state.

Contact a Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer to Help Protect Your Rights

It is not always clear where to file your case because it depends on what kind of car accident you were involved in, where the accident occurred, and where the defendant is from. If you are in an out-of-state accident or in an accident involving an out-of-state driver, you must always call 911 to file a police report and seek medical attention.

Compile as much information as possible from any witnesses and collect the contact and insurance information from the other drivers. Let your insurance company know about your car accident and an out-of-state driver was involved.

If you wish to pursue legal action, you should consult with a car accident lawyer. The Louisiana auto accident attorneys at Dudley DeBosier can guide you in filing a claim to receive fair compensation for your injuries. Contact our law offices to schedule a free case review and start the process of seeking justice today.

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