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State Court or Federal Court: Where Will My Personal Injury Lawsuit Be Filed?

Posted on - Friday, November 20, 2015 under FAQ, Personal Injury

There is no justice system in the United States. There are, in fact, 51 separate justice systems in the United States.

Each state has its own court system, overlayed by a federal court system established by the U.S. Constitution. Each system has its own rules and procedures, and each system hears cases involving a wide range of laws and subject matter.

When a personal injury lawsuit, or any lawsuit, is going to be filed, one of the first decisions the plaintiff’s attorney must make is whether to file the suit in state court or federal court. What factors play a role in that decision?

Federal Courts Have Limited Jurisdiction

First, it’s important to understand that the federal court system is one of limited jurisdiction, that is, it can only hear certain kinds of cases. Specifically, a case filed in federal court must meet one of three criteria:

  • It must be a dispute between two states
  • It must involve a question of federal law or the U.S. Constitution
  • It must be between citizens of two different states and the amount being sought by the plaintiff in damages must exceed $75,000. If there are multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants, then all of the plaintiffs must be from a different state

    thenall of the defendants.

Most personal injury lawsuits are filed in state court for the simple reason that they usually don’t rise to the level of federal jurisdiction. The majority of personal injury suits involve parties from the same state, and personal injury law is a matter of state laws, not federal law.

However, there are notable exceptions where federal law is central to a personal injury suit, such as trucking accident cases which may involve federal trucking regulations, as well as defective drug and medical device lawsuits for similar reasons.

Every Case is Different

In those cases where a Georgia plaintiff does have the option of filing their personal injury lawsuit in federal court rather than state court, the decision then comes down to a number of factors. Depending on the facts and nature of the case, the jury pool may be more favorable in one court or the other, the docket less crowded, the rules more accommodating, or venue more convenient or familiar.

Every case is different, and decisions as to where to file a personal injury lawsuit should only be made by an experienced personal injury attorney who understands both the state court and federal court systems and can select a court that is most appropriate for your case.

At The Parian Law Firm in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we represent injury victims exclusively and are committed to getting justice and compensation for our clients. Please contact us at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.