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I live in Texas and got in a wreck in Lake Charles. What do I do?

Because there are so many petrochemical plants dotting the landscape along the Louisiana and Texas borders, there are a lot of workers commuting to jobs in one state from the other. That inevitably translates to numerous accidents on the interstates during the commute.

It also raises questions of jurisdiction for some people. After all, if you live in Texas, wouldn't that mean that is the jurisdiction in which to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident?

The sovereign power of states

Due to a complex legal doctrine that details how each individual state has jurisdiction over what happens between its borders (including car accidents), you will need to file your personal injury lawsuit here in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the accident occurred.

There can be exceptions, however

In certain circumstances, there can be what is known as diversity jurisdiction, where it can be argued that more than one state has jurisdiction over a wreck. For instance, if you were injured in a wreck with an 18-wheeler, you may be able to argue that the correct jurisdiction for filing your personal injury lawsuit is where the trucking company's headquarters are — let's say Baltimore, Maryland.

In some instances, it may be strategically advantageous to file in one state and not the other. Maybe the damage caps are higher in one or the statutory limitations may be longer. But those must also be weighed against the burden of traveling to a distant state for depositions, hearings, trials, etc.

These cases are complex and typically involve multiple attorneys in the respective states, although one of the attorney's profiles is considerably lower. Their role pertains to keeping pleadings compliant with the local rules of that jurisdiction.

What steps should I take?

Your first goal should be to seek immediate medical treatment after any car accident. That also serves to document your injuries and link them to the collision. Then, follow any treatment plan given to you by your doctor.

You will need to file a personal injury claim for the damages you suffered as a result of the accident caused by the other at-fault driver. Very minor claims can sometimes be handled by the claimant. But insurance companies always seek to pay the bare minimum the client will accept and adjusters have many tricks up their sleeves.

Seek a free case evaluation

Most claimants have no idea of the actual value of their personal injury cases. That's why they often accept far less than their cases are truly worth. Cases that cross state boundaries are complex and may involve multiple defendants, some of whom may have deeper pockets than others.

Seeking legal advice and a free case evaluation after your car accident is a wise and potentially lucrative decision.

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