Automobile accidents can lead to serious injuries that can have life-long consequences. If you are a resident of Oregon and were injured while driving in Vancouver or the Vancouver area, there are certain things that you need to know. The laws of Washington and Oregon are different, and understanding those differences is important when filing a personal injury case.
If you are a resident of Oregon and you were injured in the Vancouver, Washington area, experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner of Quinn Posner Law Office, P.C. can fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
Personal Injury Case Jurisdiction
Where to file your personal injury case depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Jurisdiction refers to the power of a court to hear and decide upon cases, issue orders, and properly exercise its judicial power.
Where jurisdiction is proper can be complicated, depending on the case. A personal injury case may be filed either:
- In the county in which the accident occurred, or
- The defendant's place of residence.
Even though a person has the option to file the case in either location, the laws of the state in which the accident occurred will control. That means that if a person is injured in Vancouver, but files in Oregon, Washington law will still apply. However, Oregon procedural rules and evidence rules will apply if filed in Oregon.
What is Venue?
Venue, for the purposes of filing a personal injury case, concerns which specific court within a state is the proper place to bring a lawsuit. While state courts have general jurisdiction over certain types of cases, the specific county court in which your case must be filed is the proper venue.
The correct venue in which to file your personal injury case is the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant resides. If an accident occurred in Vancouver, Washington, the proper Washington court in which to file the personal injury claim would be the Clark County Superior Court.
However, you never have to worry about which court is the right court. Your knowledgeable personal injury attorney will ensure that your case is filed in the correct jurisdiction.
Why Does Jurisdiction Matter?
There are a number of reasons why jurisdiction matters with regard to your personal injury case.
Motions to Dismiss
If the case is filed in the wrong jurisdiction, a motion for dismissal may be filed by the defendant. Dismissal motions take time and money to consider and decide. Ultimately, if the case is filed in the wrong jurisdiction, it will be dismissed.
The easy way to deal with this is to file it correctly in the first place. With the help of experienced personal injury Quinn Posner, you can be confident that your case will be filed correctly from the very beginning.
Application of State Law
If the accident that caused your injuries occurred in Washington, Washington state law will apply. The laws of Oregon and Washington are different, and it is crucial to appropriately apply the correct law to your case. The differences between the two state's law can be important in determining how the case will proceed, and how it will be decided.
Washington law is favorable to victims and focuses on their rights. Issues with Personal Injury Protection and Under-insured and Uninsured Motorist coverage are more protective in Washington.
Another major difference is the statute of limitations in personal injury cases. In Oregon, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. In Washington, it is three years. This can make a major difference in your case. Failing to file a complaint within the statute of limitations can result in dismissal of your case.
Filing Your Case in Federal Court
When an Oregon driver is injured in Vancouver, there is the possibility that your personal injury case could be filed in federal court rather than a Washington state court. The rules for filing in a federal court are very specific.
In a personal injury action, a case would be permitted under the theory of "diversity jurisdiction." Under diversity jurisdiction, a federal court can hear a case when
- the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, and
- no plaintiff shares a state of citizenship with any defendant.
Does Your Case Exceed $75,000?
The "amount in controversy" is an estimate of what you think your total damages would be if you succeed in full on your claim. Severe injuries can often result in damages which far exceed $75,000, especially if you have suffered a permanent disability as a result of your accident. Your attorney can help you estimate your possible damages to consider whether federal court is appropriate in your case.
Diversity of Citizenship
This rule is the reason it is called "diversity" jurisdiction. No plaintiff is allowed to reside in the same state as any defendant.
Example: Frank is an Oregon resident. As he is driving on I-5 in Vancouver, heading back home, he is hit by a semi truck that failed to check in its blind spot. The driver of the semi is a Vancouver, Washington resident, and is employed by a Washington trucking company. If Frank's damages exceed $75,000, he can file his claim in federal court.
This can be more complicated when there are multiple defendants, and if one of those defendants is a business (such as an insurance company). All plaintiffs must be different than all defendants. In the case of businesses, their "residence" is the company in which they are legally formed and their principal place of business.
Further, it is important to consider whether you want to file in federal court, even if you can. There are advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed in making this determination.
Consult a Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you are an Oregon resident and you were injured while in Vancouver, you need an experienced attorney who understands the personal injury process and how to effectively prove that another person caused you harm. You do not have to face this process alone.
Experienced personal injury attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. He can also represent you in Federal courts. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.