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Venue in Car Accident Lawsuits

One of the common issues that arise when filing a car accident lawsuit is where is the appropriate place to file the case. In some cases, the accident occurs in Boston and both plaintiff and defendant live in Boston, so the case will be filed in Suffolk County Superior Court. In other cases, the answer may not be as clear. Deciding where to file a civil lawsuit is known as choice of venue.

usamap-jpg-1417432-m.jpgIn Ex parte Linda Manning, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Alabama, plaintiff filed a civil complaint in Macon County court, claiming negligence and wantonness as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Montgomery County.

In the car accident, plaintiff suffered serious personal injury and was taken to a local hospital by ambulance. The hospital was located in Montgomery County, and plaintiff resided in that county as well. After plaintiff filed the lawsuit, defendant moved to transfer the action to Montgomery County on grounds of forum non conveniens. The trial court denied the motion, and defendant filed a petition for review with the state supreme court.

The appeals court looked at whether such a transfer of venue was justified based upon the convenience of either the parties or the witnesses or that the transfer is justified as being in the interests of justice.

Defendant argued the case has strong ties to Montgomery County. That is where the accident happened, and that is the witnesses are from. The only connection to Macon was that she personally resided there. However, neither party disagreed with venue being proper in Montgomery County nor that it could have been filed in Macon County, as both counties had proper jurisdictional ties. The dispute in this case centers on the interest-of-justice prong of the engagement.

As the court noted, the accident occurred in Montgomery county, the law enforcement officers and EMS workers who responded to the accident worked in that county, plaintiff was taken to a hospital there, and plaintiff resides there. The court ultimately concluded the interests of justice required the case to be moved and trial court exceeded its discretion by failing to grant the choice of venue. The court issued a writ ordering venue be moved.

As our Boston car accident attorneys understand, when dealing with the issue of venue, it is important to understand why one party would want to have the case tried in a different county than where the other party would choose to hear the case. The answer is often that jurors are selected from residents of the county in which the court sits. Based on demographics and other factors, residents of one county may have different opinions about personal injury lawsuits and verdicts than residents of another county in the state. The plaintiff may likely want to have the case tried in a court where juries are known for finding for plaintiffs and awarding higher verdicts than seen in other counties in the Commonwealth. On the other hand, a defendant may wish to have the case heard in a county known for lower verdicts.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.

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Why Do Boston Drivers Hit and Run? July 3, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyers Blog