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Can I Sue for an Out-of-State Motorcycle Accident in NJ?

There is nothing better than riding your motorcycle across the open roads. However, operating any vehicle, including motorcycles, is not without risks, and accidents have been known to happen. You may believe the other driver was at fault and you should be compensated for any injuries or damages you sustained. Filing a lawsuit becomes a bit complicated when the accident occurs outside of your home state. If you live in New Jersey, but your accident happened in another state, you may file your lawsuit in the State of New Jersey under certain circumstances. Where you can file your case depends on the jurisdiction. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, NJ motorcycle accident attorney Jerry Friedman can help. Read on to learn how you may file a lawsuit in New Jersey for a motorcycle accident that occurred out-of-state.

Where Can I Sue for a Motorcycle Accident if I Live in NJ?

“Jurisdiction” is a legal term we often hear in movies and TV. If you have ever watched a legal drama or a cop show, you have probably heard someone refer to jurisdiction. To put it simply, jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to hear a case. There are different types of jurisdiction that allow a state court to hear a case: “personal jurisdiction” and “subject matter jurisdiction.”

Personal Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority over a specific person. Generally, the state in which you live always has personal subject matter jurisdiction over you because you live there. However, a state will typically not have personal subject matter jurisdiction over non-residents. This means that if you are involved in a motorcycle accident out-of-state, and the other driver is not a New Jersey resident, New Jersey courts may not have any personal jurisdiction.

However, there are ways around this problem. The other driver may consent to be sued in New Jersey, thus waiving personal jurisdiction restrictions. When a person willingly submits to a court’s authority, they are basically granting the court personal jurisdiction over them. Similarly, if you do not live in New Jersey but wish to file a lawsuit there, you submit to New Jersey’s personal jurisdiction when you file the lawsuit. However, it is unusual for a defendant in a lawsuit to voluntarily submit to the personal jurisdiction of the court if they do not have to, but it is certainly possible.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction is different from personal jurisdiction because a court’s authority is over the subject of the lawsuit rather than the people. One factor which may help determine subject matter jurisdiction is the type of case being filed. Courts in NJ generally have the power to hear cases dealing with accidents that happen in New Jersey, but courts in other states also typically have jurisdiction to hear accident cases from those states as well.

A state must have both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction in order to have the authority to hear a case.  However, if neither type of jurisdiction exists, then you will have to file somewhere else.

Does NJ Have Jurisdiction Over My Motorcycle Accident?

Whether New Jersey has jurisdiction over your case will depend on your unique circumstances. If no jurisdiction exists, you cannot file your lawsuit in New Jersey. Jurisdiction is not always clear, but there are ways of determining if jurisdiction exists. One such way is by measuring minimum contacts.

Minimum contacts are the connections necessary for a state to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person. Even if someone is not a New Jersey resident, the state may still exercise personal jurisdiction if that person has a strong enough connection to the state. No law defines precisely what makes for a strong enough connection. Instead, numerous court cases have shaped the way we define minimum contacts. Typically, if someone works in New Jersey, makes frequent or regular visits to New Jersey, or owns a beach house in New Jersey, the courts may have jurisdiction over them.

The critical element of minimum contacts is fairness. A person’s connection to a state must be such that they can reasonably anticipate that the state would have authority over them. However, these contacts must be construed fairly and not used as a means of dragging anyone you want into court.

What if I Am Suing an Out-of-State Company for My Motorcycle Accident in NJ?

Suing a business is different than suing another person as far as jurisdiction is concerned. Businesses are not physical entities that are present within a state the same way a person is. Large companies may be present in many states all at the same time, depending on how they conduct their business. However, even companies must fall under a court’s jurisdiction if they are to be sued.

Companies do not live in a state like a person does. Instead, they may be headquartered in a state or conduct most of their business from a specific location. A state where a company is headquartered or doing the bulk of its business will usually have personal jurisdiction over the company. However, a company may establish minimum contacts within a state by doing any business at all in that state.

Suppose you were in a motorcycle accident outside of New Jersey and wish to sue a company, such as the manufacturer of your motorcycle or an insurance company. In that case, you may be able to do so even if that company is not located in New Jersey. Courts have ruled that a company may be sued in a particular state if they place their product within the stream of commerce with expectations that customers will purchase it in that state. For example, if your motorcycle manufacturer is not in New Jersey, but they have several dealerships in New Jersey and expect to do business there, the State of New Jersey has personal jurisdiction that the company may be sued. If you need legal help to sue an out-of-state company, our Toms River, NJ motorcycle accident attorney can help.

Call Our Motorcycle Accident Attorney in New Jersey

If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident and wish to file a lawsuit in New Jersey, contact Jerry Friedman. Jerry is an experienced Marlton, NJ motorcycle accident attorney who can help you file your case. To schedule a free legal consultation, call Jerry Friedman at 1-800-529-4464.

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