Clients often wonder where a case involving an accident with a commercial motor vehicle will be filed. The short answer is that the case will be filed based upon where the truck accident occurred and where the parties involved in the accident live. An experienced commercial motor vehicle accident attorney will likely analyze which courts have jurisdiction over the plaintiff, the defendant, and where the accident occurred. This entry will attempt to list many of the possible locations that an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle accident will be filed.

State Court

An accident victim’s lawyer will often first try to pursue litigation in state court. The facts of the case are likely to determine which county in the state that the accident victim’s lawyer files the case.

  • First Choice. The first choice to file a lawsuit involving a commercial motor vehicle accident is the county where the accident occurred and the defendant resides provided these are both the same location. While the majority of car cases involve residents of the same county who collide with each other, a smaller vehicle is unlikely to belong to a resident who lives in the same area as the operator of the commercial motor vehicle. Instead, the driver of the commercial motor vehicle is likely to be in the middle of hauling cargo from one area to another and might not even be a resident of the state where the accident occurs.
  • Second Choice. The second choice to file a lawsuit involving a commercial motor vehicle accident is the county where the accident occurred and the defendant or plaintiff lives or operates its business. Because commercial motor vehicle accidents often involve parties that reside outside the area where the location occurred, lawyers will often look to where the involved parties live or operate businesses. This choice would be appropriate if the plaintiff resided in the area or the accident occurred close to where the commercial motor vehicle was delivering goods. In many situations, however, this second choice might also prove to be an inadequate choice to file a lawsuit. If a lawyer does choose this option but the commercial motor vehicle driver is from another state, the commercial motor vehicle driver’s lawyer can also make a motion for the accident case to be heard by a federal court.
  • Third Choice. If neither the first or second choice apply, the accident victim has the option to file the case in the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant resides. This third choice, however, is not always applicable because commercial motor vehicle drivers are sometimes involved in accidents outside of the state where the commercial vehicle driver lives. It might be applicable that all three options are unavailable to a lawyer who chooses to file a case.

Federal Court

Sometimes, a plaintiff’s home state court is not applicable to any of these options. The first choice might not be applicable because the defendant might resides in a different location than the site of these accidents. The second choice might similarly fail because the defendant or plaintiff might live and operate business in an area outside of where the accident occurred. Lastly, the third choice might fail because the accident might have occurred and the defendant might reside outside of the plaintiff’s state. In these types of situations, the accident victim’s lawyer often resorts to pursuing the case in federal court.

If none of the involved parties are from the state and the accident occurred out of state, the plaintiff has the option to file the case in federal court. While most commercial motor vehicle accident cases are litigated in state courts, some cases are tried in federal court. To qualify to be heard by a federal court, a case must be meet one of two criteria: diversity of citizenship or federal question. A diversity of citizenship case occurs when the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states or one of the citizens is from another country. Under diversity of citizenship cases, the damages in question must also total at least $75,000. For a case to be considered a federal question, the case must involve an issue of federal law. Because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a series of federal laws, a case involving a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration could be heard in federal court. Even though a case may be capable of being tried in federal court, it should be noted that federal court cases are often much more complex than state cases.

There is no single answer as to where an accident victim’s lawyer will file a lawsuit. The lawyer’s decision on where to file the lawsuit will be influenced by a variety of factors including not only the defendant’s residence, the plaintiff’s residence, the defendant’s place of operation, and the site of the accident in addition to contractual agreements, rules of procedure, and statutory law. An experience and skilled lawyer will always make sure to file an accident victim’s case in the most convenient venue.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, contact our law firm. Call 409-838-1000 or email our lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.