When and Where to File a Lawsuit

by J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys | May 22nd, 2016 | Auto Accident, Blog, Lawsuit

Figuring out whether or not a certain situation is worthy of filing a lawsuit is a task on its own. While it’s easy to assume that initiating a case is as simple as calling your lawyer and expressing your dissatisfaction with a particular experience, there’s so much more to this process than meets the eye.

As much as we enjoy fighting for our clients’ rights in personal injury cases, at the J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys, we know that this is only half the battle. It’s so important for our clients—prospective or past—to know all the ins and outs that coincide with seeking justice for a matter legally, no matter the type of case they’re pursuing.

While we’ve delved deep into determining whether a situation requires legal action, now it’s time to start thinking about what happens after that point: when and where do you file a lawsuit? The answer to this loaded question can be a little complex at first glance.

As your confidence is our top priority, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about when and where to file your lawsuit:

When to File a Lawsuit

As we mentioned before, determining whether or not your case is worthy of a trial is only half the battle. Next, there are a variety of different points you should consider.

– Time
The answer to this matter varies according to what state you’ll be filing in. Statute of limitations, otherwise known as the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit depending on what you’re claiming, is a crucial part of figuring out when you should officially file your lawsuit. In the state of Texas, you have two years to file a personal injury or property damage suit.

– When the clock starts ticking
Now, you might be wondering exactly when the statute of limitations period begins. No matter what type of claim you’re filing, usually the time will start ticking beginning from the date of harm (the moment the incident/altercation happened).

However, it’s important to note that there is one large exception to this rule: discovery. In some cases, it’s common for the injured party to have no knowledge that they have been harmed. Under these circumstances, the time period would begin starting on the date of discovery (the day harm was first noticed) as opposed to the day it actually occurred.

For more in-depth information, it’s crucial that you consult with your lawyer to see what the best course of action is for your particular case.

Where to File a Lawsuit

Much like the question of ‘when,’ figuring out the best place to file your lawsuit can be quite a feat as well. To make this decision easier, it’s important to start with the basics: federal and state. The type of case you are claiming is what will determine which court you will go to. Deciding between federal and state is a big decision, as you can get into some hot water if you don’t select carefully.

Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction in only two kinds of cases:
If your case is based on (arises under) any federal law (otherwise known as federal question cases)
If you are suing a citizen of a different state (or a foreign national) and you’re asking for at least $75,000 in money damages
If you’re thinking about filing a lawsuit, you’ll likely end up in a state court. Unless your particular case involves one of the special circumstances that listed under federal courts, the state court where you currently reside in will likely hear your case. From custody issues to personal injury suits and beyond, state courts are the most common place to file basic lawsuits.

Now that you’ve decided which route to take, it’s important to understand that different types of state courts hear different cases.

– Subject matter
Certain courts specialize in hearing specific types of cases. By separating cases by subject matter, this gives judges and court personnel the chance to build expertise in certain areas.

States have specialized courts such as:

  • Family law
  • Probate/surrogate
  • Landlord-tenant

It is also common for states to divide up their courts according to the amount of money or type of remedy involved.

The following divisions are typical:

  • Small claims ($2,500-$10,000)
  • Medium-sized (up to $25,000)
  • Other types of cases (higher amounts of money/non-monetary remedies)

Although this information may be a lot to digest, feeling competent when it comes to filing your lawsuit is key in your quest to attain the justice you deserve. At the J. Gonzalez Injury Attorneys, we care about all of our clients and believe it is our duty to educate them about the legal process. To learn more about when and where to file a lawsuit, chat with one of our experienced lawyers today at (956)630-6700.


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