Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.
When you have grounds to file a lawsuit, you may have the option of filing in any one of a number of jurisdictions. The rules that govern where you may file a lawsuit are known as “venue” and “jurisdiction” rules. This blog post addresses just some of the many venue and jurisdiction rules in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for personal injury lawsuits. Though the federal courts may have jurisdiction over a personal injury claim, this blog post addresses only those circumstances where legal action is filed in the state courts.
The laws regarding venue and jurisdiction can be complex, and filing your action in the wrong place can lead to a waiver of your rights and prevent you from recovery. Always consult with your attorney before choosing where to file.
Venue in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, venue is proper in all lawsuits against an individual or business “in and only in a county in which the principal or local office of the commonwealth party is located or in which the cause of action arose or where a transaction or occurrence took place out of which the cause of action arose” (See Sec. 8523 of the Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes). In laymen’s terms, this means that you may only file suit against a business in the county where the company’s principal or local office is located, or in a county where the accident occurred. In a lawsuit against a person for injuries sustained, you must file in the county where the injury occurred or in which an action took place that led to the injury.
Venue in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, you may file a personal injury lawsuit “in the county where the cause of action arose, or in which any party to the action resides at the time of its commencement” (See New Jersey Rule 4.3-2). For purposes of the venue rules, corporations are deemed to reside in any county where its registered office is located or in which it is actually doing business.
There are instances where courts will allow a change of venue based on the convenience of the parties involved, a process known as forum non conveniens. For example, if most of the witnesses are in the place where the accident occurred, a defendant can request that the case be tried in that venue, rather than somewhere where the defendant simply does business.
Even if you pick a proper venue, the court still may not have jurisdiction over the other parties. This is a frequent occurrence where a resident of one state is injured while traveling in another state. You must always look at both jurisdiction and venue before pursuing a claim.
Contact Hornstine Law, LLC
At Hornstine Law, LLC, we have decades of personal injury experience. Our attorneys work with people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 888-652-0384 (in New Jersey at609-523-2222).