Imagine a scenario where you’re driving your vehicle to work and you stop at a red light. Suddenly, there’s a crash, and you’ve been rear-ended. Law enforcement and emergency personnel arrive. You have serious injuries.
The police produce a copy of the accident report revealing that the person who hit you is an out-of-state driver. When an out-of-state person injures you, it poses unique considerations to try and get a fair recovery for your damages. Here’s what you need to know about jurisdiction, suing an out-of-state driver for personal injury, and hiring an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney to help you navigate the process.
Can You Bring a Lawsuit Against Someone from Another State?
Generally, the answer is yes, you can bring a case against someone from another state. There are a few extra things to consider. However, with some planning, you can seek recovery in Florida from an out-of-state person who hurts you, especially if the personal injury occurs in Florida.
Jurisdiction is the court’s authority to hear a case. Not every court in the United States can hear every type of case. In fact, most courts can only hear limited types of cases. A court can’t make a decision about a case unless they have the authority to decide the case. Having the authority to hear a case is called jurisdiction.
Types of Jurisdiction
There are multiple types of jurisdiction, meaning there’s more than one requirement a court needs to fulfill to have the authority to hear a certain type of case. The two types of jurisdiction are personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.
Personal jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to make a decision about a case involving a certain person. A person can’t file a lawsuit in Florida against a person in Alaska who has never been to or had anything to do with Florida. Rather, it must be fair for a person to have to respond to a case in a particular court. There are a few different ways a court can have jurisdiction over a person in a case.
A Florida court always has jurisdiction over a person who lives in Florida. If a person lives outside of Florida, they must have enough contacts with the State of Florida for it to be fair for them to have to answer a lawsuit in the state. The court looks at the person’s contacts to the state and whether it’s reasonable for the person to be hauled into a court in the state.
Generally, in a personal injury case, the court has personal jurisdiction over a person because of the person’s presence in the state. If the injury occurs in the state, the person or a corporation’s agent is typically in the state when the accident occurs. Alternatively, if the injury happens in another state, and the person or corporation is domiciled or has their principal place of business in Florida, that’s enough for personal jurisdiction, too.
A person can consent to personal jurisdiction for a lawsuit. This consent can be express or implied. In the case of a Tampa car accident, consent over a person is usually implied, because the person chose to drive a vehicle on the roads in Florida.
Finally, the most confusing way a court can have jurisdiction over a person is through minimum contacts. This looks at the entire circumstance to determine if it’s fair for a person to have to answer to a lawsuit in that location. This type of evaluation is very fact specific, and the other side might ask the court to transfer the case to a more convenient or appropriate court.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Subject matter jurisdiction is a court’s authority to hear a certain type of case. Different courts are set up to hear different kinds of cases. For example, if you want to file for bankruptcy, you go to the federal bankruptcy court set up for that purpose. If you want to get divorced, you go to a state court that hears family law matters.
Subject matter jurisdiction is by design. That is, the legislators and others who set up the courts decide what courts are going to hear what types of cases. Subject matter jurisdiction isn’t something that the parties to a lawsuit can waive. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t ask a bankruptcy court to hear a personal injury case.
Different Florida courts have subject matter jurisdiction over different types of cases. Florida County Courts can hear cases where the amount in dispute is not more than $15,000. Florida also has Circuit Courts, District Courts of Appeal, and a Supreme Court. When you’re hurt because of an out-of-state driver, you must make sure you file the case in the right court.
Why Hire a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney?
Florida has more different trial courts than any state except New York. That can make it confusing to determine where to file your claim. Filing your claim in the wrong court can cost you time, money, and ultimately, it can cost you success in your case. If there’s a jurisdictional issue in a case, it’s typically waived if it’s not brought up as soon as possible. Working with Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys can help you navigate the process to make sure your case is filed properly the first time.
In addition to jurisdictional issues, it might be tricky to serve a defendant located out-of-state. Service refers to making sure the other side knows about the lawsuit and gets a copy of the paperwork. If the court isn’t satisfied with service, they may not allow your case to proceed. Working with a Tampa personal injury attorney can ensure this process goes smoothly.
Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys is a well-qualified team of personal injury attorneys that can put their skills and experience to work for you. Suffering any type of personal injury is a trying and emotional event. When the other side is from out-of-state, that process can be even more challenging. If you try to go it alone, you may make errors that hurt your case or leave money on the table. A team of seasoned attorneys can simplify the process, guide you through each step, and help you maximize your recovery.