Recent Case Highlights the Importance of Where a Case Is Filed

Where a person files a claim can have a huge impact on the outcome of the case. Laws differ from state to state, and especially in today’s mobile world, often it is not clear which law applies. In a recent decision, one state had to decide this very issue—and the ruling meant whether the case was able to continue or whether the case was over.

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According to the court’s written opinion, two Washington residents were involved in a single-car accident in Idaho. The plaintiff, a passenger in the car, filed a lawsuit against the driver, both of whom lived in Washington. The suit was filed in Washington more than two years after the accident. In Woodward v. Taylor, the issue that state’s supreme court had to decide was which state’s law applied. If Idaho law applied, the claim would have been dismissed because of the state’s two-year statute of limitations. If Washington law applied, the claim was permitted under its three-year statute of limitations. Ultimately, the court held that Washington law applied in this case, allowing the case to move forward.

The court noted that there was a presumption that a state’s laws apply where a claim is filed. In addition, the court found that a difference between statutes of limitations did not constitute a “conflict of law.” The court explained that a conflict of law means that the result of a case would be different under the laws of the two states. However, a difference between statutes of limitations was not considered in determining which state’s law applies. In determining whether a conflict existed, the court found that no conflict of law existed in that case because the relevant laws of negligence, speed limits, and comparative fault in the two states would have resulted in the same outcome. For that reason, the court stated that since there was no conflict of law, the law of their state applied, and the case could continue.

The Importance of Where a Case is Filed

As demonstrated by this case, the importance of the forum, or where a case is heard and decided, can be extremely critical. Today, cases can often be filed in multiple states and even multiple countries. Where a claim is filed can mean a difference in which claims can be filed, when they can be filed, and the amount of damages a party can collect. In this case, the statute of limitations meant whether or not the case was able to move forward.

Statutes of Limitations

Statutes of limitations provide the maximum period of time after an event occurred during which a party can file suit. After the maximum time passes, the claim can no longer be filed. The statute of limitations varies by jurisdiction and by the claim itself. For example, Illinois has a different statute of limitations if a person is suing for damage to property than if they are suing for injuries to a person. However, sometimes the statute of limitations dates can be extended if certain conditions are met. Knowing which statute of limitations applies and if it can be extended is very important.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident?

If you have been involved in a car accident, you should speak with a dedicated Illinois personal injury attorney as soon as possible to avoid your claim being barred by a statute of limitations. The skilled attorneys at Moll Law Group have experience in complicated cases that deal with issues of jurisdiction. Our lawyers are here to help you file your claims in a timely manner and seek the compensation you deserve. If you were involved in an accident and want to learn more about how and when to file a claim, call 312-462-1700 or fill out our free consultation form.

See More Posts:

Common Carriers Must Take Reasonable Care or Face Liability, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 12, 2016.

State-Owned Railway Is Protected by Sovereign Immunity, Supreme Court Decides, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 9, 2016.

Illinois Protects Police with Partial Immunity in Police Misconduct Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2016.