When a car accident happens and a lawsuit follows, where the lawsuit will be heard has to be determined. Maryland alone has 20 counties (including Baltimore City, which is treated like a county), each with its own state court system. Of course there are also other states, including the nearby jurisdictions of Virginia and the District of Columbia. And then there are the federal courts located in every state.
The choice of where a case shall be heard rests primarily with the Plaintiff (who brings the lawsuit), although the Defendant has the right to ask one court to transfer the case to another court. Even so, there are hard rules on where a case may be heard. An auto accident case can always be heard, and almost always is heard, in the jurisdiction where the accident happened. For a Maryland collision, this means the county in which the collision took place. Generally, the other alternative is the jurisdiction in which any Defendant resides. (This may present more than one choice if there are multiple Defendant drivers, or if a Defendant driver was working for his/her employer, who is also a Defendant). This means it may be possible to bring an auto accident case in a different county, or even a different state, when the auto accident happens in Maryland.
We usually choose to file cases in state court. However, in an auto accident case, the Defendant can generally get the case moved to the local federal court if the Plaintiff and the Defendant live in different states, and the case is not filed in the Defendant’s home state, and the Plaintiff asks the Court for an award greater than $75,000. In addition, when we sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (also known as Metro) when one of its buses hits someone, Metro always has the right to move the case to federal court.
If you have any questions about where to file a lawsuit arising out of an auto accident, you should contact the Maryland personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.