Personal Injury Choice of Laws
When your claim for an injury in Georgia may be brought in Georgia
A person may have multiple options for where to bring a claim. Where you bring it may significantly affect your recovery.
If the person causing the injury is not from Georgia but you are
Georgia courts have jurisdiction to hear cases that involve an injury that occurs in Georgia. That is true regardless of where the person causing the injury is from. Under Georgia’s Long Arm Statute if a person commits a tort within this state (eg. causes a car wreck) he may be sued in Georgia.
If the person causing the injury is from Georgia but you are not
If the person causing the injury is from Georgia or you get injured on a Georgia resident’s property, it’s likely your claim will have to be brought in Georgia (either in a state or federal court).
If neither the person causing the injury nor the injured person are from Georgia
Georgia state courts have jurisdiction to hear cases that involve an injury that occurs in Georgia even if both the injured person and person causing the injury are from other states. It is not required that the claim be brought in Georgia, but it is permissible.
When to talk to a Georgia lawyer
Whenever an injury occurs in Georgia or involves a person who is a resident of Georgia, it is important to talk to a Georgia lawyer to determine all the places the claim may be brought. Where you bring the claim will affect what state’s law governs. The legal term for this is choice of law.
What law governs and even where within a state a claim may be brought can have a significant effect on the outcome. Some things that differ from state to state are:
- the burden of proof necessary to prevail on your claim
- whether, if you are also somewhat responsible, your damages will be reduced or you will totally lose your right to any recovery
- whether your damages will be capped at some arbitrary amount regardless of your injuries
- whether the at fault party may be responsible for punitive damages
- whether you can recover the amount of your medical bills
If you think your claim may be able to be brought in Georgia, it is important to talk to a Georgia attorney who is knowledgeable about choice of law issues so you can make sure you choose the very best place to bring your claim. Over the last 24 years I’ve dealt with numerous choice of law situations and am happy to listen to your specific situation and advise you.
Ann-Margaret Perkins is a partner with Perkins Law Firm, L.L.P. practicing personal injury and social security disability, but her claim to fame is being mom to former Southeastern Guide Dogs breeder, Baxter.