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Why Does it Matter Where I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit, you need to know that the court in which you plan to file has jurisdiction over the case. This means the court has the legal authority to hear the case.

Where to file your lawsuit is the first of many decisions you will need to make. Discussing your case with a seasoned personal injury lawyer will take some of the guesswork out of these decisions– increasing your likelihood of success.

When does a court have jurisdiction?

A court must have both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. The former means the court has power over the intended defendant. Subject matter jurisdiction means the court has the power over the legal questions raised in the lawsuit.

Jurisdiction is set by state and federal constitutions and laws. Some factors that can affect it include:

  • Relationship to the geographical area: A state court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a citizen of the state or company that conducts business in the state; a defendant that does not reside there, but is served with the summons and complaint within state lines; or it can be shown that the defendant has minimum contacts with the state.
  • Monetary amount at issue: A court can have subject matter jurisdiction over a case if the value of the claim meets the limits of the court or involves certain types of cases that the court is authorized to hear. For example, the state district courts have jurisdiction over cases in which the amount in dispute is at least $4,500, and they have exclusive jurisdiction when the amount in controversy is at least $25,000.

More than one court can have jurisdiction over a case so skilled personal injury lawyers make strategic decisions about which eligible court is the best to file a lawsuit.

Jurisdiction of state and federal courts

In Virginia, the district courts have general jurisdiction. However, if the amount in controversy is under $5,000, a plaintiff has the option of filing a lawsuit in the small claims division for a faster resolution.

When the lawsuit involves a federal question, it may be filed in a federal court. It can also hear lawsuits where the plaintiff and defendant are residents of different states and the amount in dispute is at least $75,000.

Contact us at Rutter Mills for a free consultation

When you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury, take the smart first step, and contact us. The Norfolk personal injury lawyers at Rutter Mills are here to help you secure the compensation you need to be made whole. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

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“Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than being hurt or ill. And nobody likes to ask for help. But when you need it most, we’re at our best. We give our clients the confidence and support they need to know they’ll be taken care of – that they’ll get the best outcome possible, even in the face of a very bad situation.”

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What Our Clients Say

"The staff at Rutter Mills worked for me from the first minute I was in their office. They called and emailed every week and kept better records than I did. I was injured and had to undergo two operations from the accident. The recovery period was long with many physical therapy sessions over the next year. The staff emailed me many times, asking if there was anything they could do to make me feel better during my recovery. During this time my attorney was active in filing the paperwork for court litigation, but was contacted by the other law firm that wished to discuss settling my case. Depositions were done and the final one was scheduled and I was present to complete that phase of the case. My attorney got a maximum award for me and I will be forever grateful for his and their staff's work and attention during my time of legal need. Rutter Mills will be my only call if I ever need legal representation in the future." ★★★★★ -Dan, Rutter Mills Client