How State Jurisdiction Could Improve Your Wrongful Death Case

A wrongful death lawsuit involves a lot of work collecting evidence to prove a product manufacturer is liable for a death. But ultimately, the laws of the local land could sway the verdict. When your lawyers go to court to decide which jurisdiction your case should be held in, the outcome could place you in a plaintiff-friendly or defendant-friendly court.

The following are three reasons why lawyers may argue to place your wrongful death case in one jurisdiction over another.

Higher Jury Awards 

In product liability cases, the courts in two or more states could have jurisdiction to hear a wrongful death case. When a conflict arises, a Conflict of Laws case is held to determine which court's rules should apply over:

  • the rights of the injured parties
  • the liability of the accused
  • and the type and amount of damages to be awarded. 

Since these rules can differ among states, the jurisdiction could change the outcome of your case.

If the laws and past court decisions in one state are more favorable to your wrongful death case, your lawyer will try to have the case tried in that state. 

For example, in a wrongful death case of a brick mason who was killed when the brakes failed in the truck he was driving to a job in Connecticut, the judge decided to hear the case in New York. The repair service that performed the faulty work on the breaks is located in New York. New York was the preferred location for the family of the brick mason because the state's damage awards are two to three times higher.

No Punitive Awards

Manufacturers often prefer cases be tried in the states where their corporate head office is located. They have powerful lobbying arms that seek to influence laws on their home turf. Large automakers, for example, might prefer cases be tried in Michigan where civil juries do not impose punitive damages.

Dismissal of a Case 

Defendants may try to have a case dismissed by arguing that the state has no personal jurisdiction to hear the case. In several cases currently before the courts, auto manufacturers are arguing that they did not make, sell, or service the vehicles in the state where their cars were in accidents. These cases, both involving Ford, have wide-ranging implications in product liability cases in which the products travel with the owner. 

Your wrongful death lawyer will take all of these strategic maneuvers into consideration when deciding which jurisdiction should rule over your case.

For more information, contact a wrongful death lawyer today.

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