Sometimes we represent Louisiana clients who have been injured in another state. They want to know what their options are since the injury occurred away from home. Specifically, they need to know where they should file the lawsuit and if they need to hire a personal injury attorney in the other state.
This is how the law works: usually, you will need to file the lawsuit in the location where the injury took place. This would be the specific state and county where the accident occurred. So let’s say our client is injured in Mississippi in an 18 wheel truck collision. The accident and injury took place along the highway near McComb, Mississippi, which is Pike County. So you would file the injury lawsuit in Pike County, Mississippi.
Federal Court Could Be an Option
However, in some cases, you might want to explore all available options. Sometimes you should initiate legal proceedings in federal court rather than state court. This can help avoid the old buddy system where the local judge may know the party who has injured you. The federal court is always better to avoid the possibility of an unconscious preference for the local defendant on the part of the judge or jury. If the defendant is a local business that employs many local people, for example, the jury may find it hard to render a large judgment against the business.
Filing the Lawsuit in Your Home State
Another option is to try and file the lawsuit in your home state – in this case, Louisiana. This can be difficult to do, but it is possible if your personal injury attorney can show that Louisiana has a “compelling interest” in your claim. A compelling interest would be if the victim and many of the witnesses to the accident reside in Louisiana. Or if the victim is severely injured and has large medical bills and future medical costs and wage losses, this could be an argument that Louisiana has a compelling interest and is the proper jurisdiction for the claim.
What Kind of Attorney You Will Need
If you cannot change the jurisdiction to your home state, you will need to find an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you were injured. It is always good to have a lawyer licensed in both states — the state where you live and the state where the accident occurred — so you will have more options for finding the most advantageous jurisdiction for your claim. Additionally, it is convenient to work with an attorney who has an office near your home. Otherwise, you will need to travel to the other state to meet with your attorney.
I am licensed to practice law in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas, and I have found that multi-state licensing is beneficial for my Louisiana clients. We can easily meet in Louisiana to prepare our case, and can litigate the case in whatever jurisdiction is most appropriate. However, it should be noted that it is not just important that your lawyer has law licenses in both states, you also need to choose an attorney who has significant jury trial experience. There are many personal injury lawyers out there, some who are licensed in two or more states, but few experienced trial lawyers. It is vital to choose carefully. If you are a Louisiana resident with an injury in Mississippi, Georgia, or Texas, my law office may be able to help you.