Injured in Another State? What Are Your Legal Options?

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 17, 2014 7:33 AM

You may be outside your home state for a number of reasons: vacation, seeing family over the holidays, work trips, etc. But you probably won't know what your legal options are if you're injured while visiting another state.

Odds are that you'll be able to sue for your injuries, but there may be some twists as to how and where you'll be able to file suit.

So what can happen if you get injured in another state?

You Can Sue in the State Where the Injury Occurred

In order to file suit in a particular state or county, the court you're filing in must have jurisdiction over your claims. To sue the person, business, or entity responsible for your injuries, the state you're suing in must have jurisdiction over that defendant.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to sue where the accident occurred. Regardless of whether the defendant is from that state or county, because the injurious incident occurred in that state, the court generally has jurisdiction over the defendant.

You May Be Able to Sue in Your Home State

Even if you've been injured in another state, you may be able to sue in your home state if the person or entity that injured you has minimum contacts with your home state. Some examples of "contacts" include:

  • A company that does business in your home state;
  • A person who maintains a home in your home state; or
  • A person or business who is party to a contract formed in your home state.

Typically, if the person or business responsible for injuring you in any way availed itself of the rights and benefits of your home state, you may sue there. However, depending on the laws and your specific situation, it may be more advantageous to sue outside your home state, despite the distance inconvenience.

Sue in State or Federal Court?

Even after you determine which state you can sue in for your out-of-state injury, you'll also need to decide whether state or federal court is appropriate.

Federal courts typically only hear matters which:

  • Are between parties with diverse citizenship (typically, parties from different states) with at least $75,000 in damages; or
  • Deal with a federal question (involving federal law, constitutional rights, etc.).

Almost all cases which can be filed in federal court can also be filed in state court, so your attorney may be able to advise you on the best place to pursue your out-of-state injury claim.

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