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I Was Injured In a Different State – Where Do I Go From Here?

If you are injured in a state that is not the one in which you live, you are still entitled to bring forth a claim against the person or business that injured you.  However, there are some things that must be considered when doing so. The first step in this confusing and stressful time should be to look after your health, as this is a far more important aspect to worry about than any legal action. When you are healthy and ready to pursue a claim for your injuries, there are several things to consider.

Before you consult with a lawyer, it would be helpful to collect evidence as to who caused the accident, what the accident was, and the specifics of the damages that it caused. This information can be supplemented by photographs, which can be extremely helpful in personal injury cases. Be sure to keep a record of everything that happened after the accident, including medical bills, hospital visits, lost work, insurance coverage issues, and property damage. If there were any witnesses to the accident, a good idea would be to contact these people and to speak with them and anyone else who was involved in the accident that caused your injuries. This is a helpful way to begin building a case. As a last step, you could inform the person or company that you are filing suit against that you plan to do so, as there may be a chance of some sort of amicable settlement agreement between you and that individual.

While you are not required to hire a lawyer to assist with the legal aspects of filing a claim for your injuries, it may be helpful to do so.  Personal injury suits can be time consuming, costly, and confusing and the aid of an attorney would make the process smoother. If the cause of the injury was a corporation, it is likely that they have attorneys prepared to handle personal injury cases against them, and so it might be in your best interest to consult with a lawyer as to how to best go about handling your case. Further, there are limits as to the amount of time that you would have in filing your case, and a lawyer would be helpful in determining the statute of limitations for your case and making sure that deadlines do not pass by and you are not prohibited from filing your claim.

When seeking to hire a lawyer to help you handle the legal aspects of your injury, it is important to make sure that the attorney you are hiring is licensed to practice in the state of the injury. As long as your attorney is licensed in both states, you can retain an attorney in your home state, which may be more convenient in meeting with that attorney.  However, you will still need to travel to the state you were injured in to attend court proceedings and other required meetings, such as possible court ordered mediation. It might be a good idea to hire a lawyer who works in that state regularly, as they will be familiar with the specific nuances of that state and will know the appropriate steps to take in handling your case in the best manner possible.

It is also important to make sure that the firm that you are hiring to handle you case handles out of state clients.  While this seems simple, many firms do not accept cases involving out of state clients because there are added costs involved, such as dealing with unfamiliar out of state insurance providers and doctors.  It is also important the lawyer knows which court is appropriate to file your claim, as there are several options depending on the location of the parties and the identity of those parties. Your lawyer should also be aware of issues regarding timing, as certain injuries have time limits within which a suit can be filed. After that time limit has expired, you may be unable to file a claim for your injury.

Depending on who you are claiming caused your injury, it might not be necessary for you to file a claim against that person in the different state[1].  It is possible that your home state may have jurisdiction, or legal authority, over your case. Jurisdiction can be a complicated concept, but it is based on territory, and a state court can only gain jurisdiction over an individual if that individual has some sort of connection to the state that the court is located in.  If your are filing a claim against an individual who lives outside of the state, your home state may have jurisdiction over that person if they ever come into your home state. If they do not, the court of your home state can gain jurisdiction over that individual if they conduct business within your home state, if they injure someone within your home state, if they commit a tort outside the home state that causes an injury within the state, or if they own property in the home state. These are all ways that a state court may obtain jurisdiction over an individual, but they are not always successful in doing so. If none of these work, the state court will not have jurisdiction over that individual and the claim must be filed in the state where the accident occurred.

If your injury was caused by a corporation or business, then any state in which that business is incorporated will have jurisdiction over it. Even if the business is not incorporated in your home state, if that business solicits business in your home state or maintains offices in your home state, then the state may have jurisdiction over it. Depending on the corporation’s business practices, your home state may have jurisdiction over it.  If your home state does not have jurisdiction over the business, you will need to file a claim against them in the state where the injury occurred.

Depending on the severity of the injury, it might be necessary to file your complaint in federal court. There are two reasons that this would be necessary, the first is that the claim is being brought against the federal government. If both you and the person you claim caused the injury live in different states and the injury is so severe that you are seeking more than $75,000, then federal court will be the appropriate place to file the claim.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a different state, please do not hesitate to contact the New Jersey Lawyers for injuries at the Clark Law Firm, P.C. Our attorneys are licensed to practice in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi, and are well-versed in the nuances of filing a personal injury suit in each of those states.

[1] http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Jurisdiction.aspx

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