What do you do if you are injured by an out of town driver?
First, call Bell & Brigham so our Trial Lawyers can fight for you!
But after you do that, next comes the issue of where to file the law suit against the negligent driver who caused your injuries.
Venue is an important and complex legal issue that can determine how your case will proceed against the other driver. Venue is the legal term for the county in which the legal matter will be fought. Under the law of Georgia, everyone has the right to be sued in the county where they reside. If the car wreck was in Fulton County, but the driver resides in Dade County, then the law suit will have to be filed in the defendant driver’s resident county. However, it will be important to remember that venue will also be affected by various factors:
You will be able to file suit in the county in which the defendant resides, not in the county where the wreck took place. If Defendant Driver crashes into you while Defendant Driver is driving in Fulton County, but he lives in Burke County, then you must file suit in Burke County not Fulton.
Under the law, if you are injured by a driver who resides in a county outside of Georgia, then you will not need to file suit in their resident county. O.C.G.A. § 40-12-1 or the “Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act” allows a Georgia resident to file suit (1) in the plaintiff’s county of residence, or (2) in the county where the wreck happened. It’s up to you, the plaintiff, to determine which county to fight the case.
It’s important to remember to properly serve the defendant with the summons and complaint. Merely mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant’s address may not be sufficient if you cannot prove that he or an appropriate adult resident received it. Thankfully, there are private services available that will perform the service on your behalf so that you can ensure that the defendant has been properly served under the law wherever they may reside.
Defendant is a Company:
If you decide to sue a company in Georgia, your lawsuit will need to be served on an employee that has authority within the company. If you are suing Starbucks, you will not be able to go and drop it off with the local Barista. (Well, you could, but chances are it’ll be sent to the trash department instead of the legal department).
Under O.C.G.A. § 14-2-510, you may file lawsuit in either in the county in which the Company has a registered agent or in any county in which the Company has a store and it transacts business. Be mindful that if you file the lawsuit in the county in which the wreck took place and the Company is not principally located there nor does it have a store location there, then the Company is entitled to remove the lawsuit to a different county. If you are not sure where the company may have a registered or principal office, you can research it by going onto the Georgia Secretary of State’s website located at: https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch
As you can tell from this “short” blog entry, a simple issue such as “where do I sue the driver” can be very complicated and can damage your case if not done correctly.
Do not try to “DIY”, please call Bell & Brigham and let us fight for you.