Truck drivers often travel long distances across state lines, utilizing interstate highways that you may also use for interstate travel. If you have been injured in a truck accident, either in the state you live in or while you were traveling, then you may be concerned about where and when your case may go to court. There are several aspects of location that you have to be aware of if you are involved in a trucking incident.
Jurisdiction Favors the Defendant
Jurisdiction is which court has the ability to hear a case that you file against someone else. In most cases, jurisdiction favors the defendant. Because in the United States a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, cases usually need to be filed in the defendant's home state. For a truck driver, this is the state where their permanent home is. If you are suing the trucking company, this would be the state where their headquarters are located.
However, exceptions are made occasionally. If you are unable to travel to another state due to severe physical limitations, your lawyer may be able to have your case transferred to your home state. Also, it may be possible to move the case to the state where the accident occurred.
You May Be Able to Sue In Your Home State If The Defendant Has Adequate Means of Defense There
Even if the defendant is domiciled elsewhere, you may be able to move the case to your home state if they have adequate ties to your state. For a company, that means they would have a branch office in your state. If it is an individual, they would need to own property in your state.
Your Lawyer Should Have Experience In the State You Are Suing In
Each state has slightly different laws regarding commercial trucking. Your case will be reviewed under the laws of the state in which your case is filed, without regards to which state the accident actually happened in. Because your defendant's lawyer will most likely be familiar with the applicable state laws, it is important that you hire a lawyer who is also familiar with the state laws. If you are not hiring a lawyer from the state where your case will be reviewed, you should make sure that they have experience filing cases in that state.
Your Medical Exams Can Be Completed In Your Home State
You should not have to travel before your case goes to court. Although you may be required to undergo physical examinations to prove the extent of your injuries, you should be able to complete the necessary exams in your home state and then have the records faxed or mailed to the appropriate parties. Communications with your lawyer should be able to be completed online or on the phone, with a few personal visits, which should also limit the amount you have to travel.
If You Settle Out of Court, You Should Not Have to Leave Your State
If you accept a settlement without going to court, then you should not have to leave your state to receive payment. Only 5% of personal injury cases actually go to trial. The vast majority of cases settle outside of court. While it may still be important that you be prepared to go to court in order to get the settlement that you deserve, it is likely that your lawyer will be able to get an adequate settlement before you have to go to trial.
Understanding jurisdiction and knowing where you will have to file a suit against the truck driver or trucking company responsible for your accident will help you prepare your case and decide on the best lawyer to hire to represent you. Consider checking out a law firm like The Jaklitsch Law Group to begin your search for a competent lawyer.