When someone is visiting another state and gets injured in a car accident, they often wonder where they can file their lawsuit. Can they sue them in Florida where the accident happened, or can they sue in their own state?
Anytime someone is injured and lives out of state, they can sue where the injury occurred. This is because a court needs jurisdiction (the legal authority to decide a case) over both parties in a lawsuit. If the at-fault driver lives in Florida, then the court has jurisdiction over that person.
But what about the out-of-state victim? Florida law gives its courts jurisdiction over someone who is visiting the state and is injured in the state.
Minimum Contacts with the State
To determine if a court in one state has jurisdiction over someone from another state, the law will look to see if the out-of-state person has certain minimum contacts with that state. If it does, then it can assert jurisdiction over that person, if not then the court has no authority to hear the case.
- Some of these minimum contacts are:
- Having property in that state,
- Having or conducting business in that state,
- Driving through that state, if the lawsuit has to do with a personal injury that happened while driving.
The idea is, does someone have enough ties with a state for that state’s government to assert their law over that person? Living in another state generally protects you from the laws of that state, but if you have enough contacts with that state, then the laws that deal with your contact with the state can be asserted over you.
Can I Sue in my Own State if they Live Elsewhere?
Let’s say you live in Florida and are injured by a motorist while visiting Alaska. We now know that you can sue in Alaska where the accident happened, but what if you don’t want to travel clear to Alaska to conduct the lawsuit.
This is when you apply the minimum contacts law in Florida. If the driver who lives in Alaska has enough minimum contacts with Florida, then you can sue them in Florida. However, many people have no contact with other states which would make it difficult for Florida to have jurisdiction over them.
What do I do if I’m Need to Sue Someone from Another State?
If you’ve been injured by an out-of-state driver in Florida, or you were out of the state and were hit, talk to a local attorney to find out your options. An attorney is going to know the law on jurisdiction and will discuss your options with you.
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