Accidents involving semi-trucks can cause serious injuries to people and serious damages to vehicles. In a case like this, a person should be informed of when a lawsuit is available in federal court, and the benefits and drawbacks of filing a lawsuit in federal court versus state court.
When is a Lawsuit in Federal Court Available?
In general, trucking companies are interstate organizations. They are usually incorporated in one state and have a principle place of business (i.e. where they conduct the most business) in another state. The driver of the semi may be from a third state. So, when an accident with a semi happens, the driver of the semi or the trucking company may not be from the state the accident occurred in, while the driver of the other car may be from that state. This is different from an everyday accident because in that case all drivers involved may be from the same state.
The two ways to file a suit in federal court are if the plaintiff and defendant in a case are from different states (this is known as diversity jurisdiction) and when the amount in controversy (i.e. damages from the accident, medical expenses, etc.) is greater than $75,000. If both requirements are met, a plaintiff may file a lawsuit in federal court. However, should a plaintiff file a lawsuit in federal court?
The Differences Between State and Federal Court
There are benefits and drawbacks to filing in federal court versus filing in state court. Because trucking accidents often involve larger sums of money, filing a lawsuit in federal court may be obtainable, as long as diversity jurisdiction is met. However, it has been noted that in federal court, awards may be smaller than in state court, where juries have been more friendly towards plaintiffs. Federal courts usually have a smaller caseload and more resources available, allowing for greater attention given to every case. This allows the courts to process cases quicker. Drawbacks in state court can be different, depending on the trucking company’s location, as well as the amount of damages you could expect to receive.
Jurors in state court are generally seen as more plaintiff friendly, and will give a higher damages award, depending on the county. This might not be the case if the trucking company is located in the county you were injured in. The company might provide jobs for many in the county, or help drive the local economy, and as such the jurors may not want to give a high damages award, no matter the injuries or damages incurred. Even if a suit is filed in state court, if both elements of diversity jurisdiction are met, the defendants may remove the case to federal court anyway.
There are several differences between filing a trucking case in federal court versus state court. In federal court you have to meet certain requirements, your case might receive more judicial attention, and, depending on the case you may not receive as much in terms of damages as you might if you filed in state court. In state court juries are usually more plaintiff friendly, so a higher damages award might come of the case, but if the county you file suit in is home to the company, you might be looking at a jury who does not want to give a high damages award.
How Should I Proceed With my Trucking Accident Case?
Injured truck accident victims need an experienced lawyer who has handled a lot of tractor trailer and commercial vehicle accidents. These cases can be hotly contested by extremely skilled defense attorneys who are paid a lot of money by truck insurance companies. Because the damages are usually much greater, the stakes are higher. At Hurst Limontes LLC, we have over 65 combined years of experience in personal injury accident cases throughout the Indianapolis area. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you file your claim and be adequately compensated for your incurred damages.