You need a lawyer for an accurate answer, but there probably is no real problem with continuing

You need a lawyer for an accurate answer, but there probably is no real problem with continuing!

You might not need a lawyer for everything, but you need one for an accurate answer as to this one issue. There are some things that are too complicated for this interactive guide. The legal fields of “jurisdiction” and “conflict of laws” are good examples of them.

The probability is that this issue will not present you with difficulty. Generally, a state court will apply its own laws in any case presented to it, and any people who are before it. Therefore you will have no trouble in court and none when dealing with an insurance adjuster (if there is one in your case).

However, there are limitations.

Jurisdiction over the parties to the dispute

A state court must have jurisdiction over the parties. It gets jurisdiction over the plaintiff (i.e., the complaining party) when he or she files the lawsuit. Jurisdiction over the defendant, however, is another matter.

If the defendant resides in the state, does business there, was physically present there and caused an accident there, or owns property there, the state has jurisdiction over the defendant. If none of those conditions exist, however, it can get more complicated. Most states add up the contacts that the defendant has with the state. If there are enough contacts — and that calculation is difficult to make until you get in front of the judge — then there will be jurisdiction.

If the accident happened in the state where the lawsuit is filed, the court most likely will find there there was jurisdiction over the defendant if he or she, or their dog, was in the state when the incident occurred.

Conflict of laws

If the accident happened in another state, the laws of that state might be different from the laws in the state where the lawsuit is brought or the claim is made. This conflict of laws might give the defendant a defense in one state, but could make him liable in the other state.

Generally, the laws of the state where the accident happened will be used to determine who is responsible, but the laws of the state where a lawsuit is brought will govern the procedures used. Note that a statute of limitations is considered to be in the category of laws relating to who is responsible.

If your case has a critical conflict of laws, you should talk to an attorney. Courts will be influenced by many factors that are too numerous to list and evaluate here. For example, if a child is the victim, courts often are swayed to apply the law of the state where the child resides.

However, if the accident happened in the state where the court is located, or if the defendant lives in that state, the court of that state will probably apply the laws of that state.

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