Should You File Your Trucking Case in Federal Court?

18 wheeler rolled over in the ditch.

If someone you love was hurt in an Ohio truck accident and tragedy has struck your family, you need a lawyer who has the experience, expertise, and advice to maximize your financial recovery. An important strategic consideration, especially in a case involving injuries caused by a trucking accident, is whether you should file your case in state court or federal court.

Deciding whether to file your trucking accident case in state or federal court is a complicated decision that requires a thorough analysis of applicable laws and strategic considerations about which venue will be more advantageous for your case.

Can You File a Trucking Accident Case in Federal Court?

In most car accident cases, you do not have a choice on where to file. Car accidents commonly involve two or more people who live in the same state, and the victim’s claims are based on state laws.

This is yet another way that trucking accident cases are different from a typical car accident case. Many trucking accident cases can be filed in state or federal court. To be able to file your case in federal court, your case must either present a federal question or present a case involving plaintiffs and defendants who are all from different states. This is known as diversity jurisdiction.

Because trucking companies often transport goods across state lines they are engaged in interstate commerce and may be subject to federal court jurisdiction.

You may also be able to file your case in federal court based on diversity jurisdiction, This occurs in the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000 and all of the parties reside in different states. A business has two legal residences - the state where the business is incorporated and the state that is the company’s principal place of business. In many trucking accident cases, the injured victim lives in one state, the driver of the truck lives in another state, and the trucking company is incorporated and has its principal place of business in a third another state. This establishes diversity jurisdiction and allows you to file your case in federal court.

If your case concerns a ‘federal question’ or if the plaintiff and defendants are all from different states, you have the option to file your case in federal court. But should you?

Should You File Your Trucking Accident Case in Federal Court?

Conventional wisdom holds that there are strategic advantages to filing in state court. State court procedures are often more friendly to plaintiffs, and some lawyers believe that state court juries are more likely to return higher verdicts.

But there can be disadvantages to filing a case in state court. State court cases will draw jurors from a smaller jury pool. Jurors in state court cases come from a single county. And some counties are known for having juries that are not friendly to plaintiffs. If a particular defendant is a major employer in a county or if a county is particularly advantageous to a trucking company, there may be an advantage to filing in federal court.

And even if you do file in state court, there is a chance that a defense lawyer could remove a case to federal court because they think federal court is more advantageous for the defendants.

Federal court juries come from a much larger area. In state court, If your case is filed in Cleveland, jurors will come from Cuyahoga County. In Elyria, jurors will be drawn from Lorain County. If your case is in Akron, jurors will come from all of Summit County. But in a federal court case that is filed in Cleveland, for example, jurors will come from Ashland, Ashtabula, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, and Richland counties.

In addition, federal court judges often have more time to analyze the pleadings in a particular case. They typically have smaller caseloads and more resources available. This allows federal court judges to take a more active role in overseeing the litigation, and there are fewer cases filed in federal court.

Federal court procedures require mandatory disclosure of certain basic information. This procedural requirement can benefit plaintiffs’ lawyers who know how to use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to prevent defense lawyers from delaying the legal process.

Federal court cases often move more quickly than state court cases. Trial dates in federal court are scheduled months in advance. The lawyers must be thoroughly prepared for trial, and there is less likelihood that a civil trial date will be canceled because of a criminal trial, which takes precedence.

Robenalt Law Seeks Justice for People Injured in Trucking Accidents

When deciding whether to file your case in federal court, your lawyer will evaluate your case, analyze applicable state and federal laws and procedural questions, and evaluate the speed with which your case will move through the court system.

Some lawyers who practice primarily in state court shy away from filing a case in federal court. But if you have a good case, an experienced and talented lawyer can help you obtain fair compensation, regardless of whether your case was filed in state or federal court.

If you or someone you love was involved in a trucking accident it is likely that the injuries were severe. Because the stakes are high and there is a chance your case could end up in federal court, you need a trucking accident lawyer who has federal court experience and is not afraid to take a case to trial in federal court.

Ohio trucking accident injury lawyer Tom Robenalt has the resources, experience, and expertise to handle your trucking case in state court or federal court. We invite you to learn more about the firm, read answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and to contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Call Robenalt Law today at 216-233-7573, email, or complete our online form.

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and their families secure compensation for injuries caused by trucking accidents.

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