Where Should You File Your Injury Lawsuit?

Aditi Mukherji

If you’ve been injured, you might be thinking about bills — and lawsuits. First, you should consider whether filing a lawsuit is the right decision in your case.

If you think a lawsuit fits the bill, the next step is to figure out which court is the most appropriate to hear your case. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

How much are you asking for?

If you’re seeking $5,000 or less in your case, you may want to file your lawsuit in an Illinois small claims court. It’s an attractive option because you can sue for an injury for a pretty small fee.

In small claims court, you usually have pro se representation, which means you’ll represent yourself. But don’t worry, representing yourself sounds scarier than it is. There are ways for you to prep for small claims court.

But if you really hate public speaking, you’re in luck. In Illinois, you don’t need to have a lawyer for smal claims court, but you can have one if you want.

How many days has it been since your injury?

Another important factor that lawyers take into account is the difference in statutes of limitations. If you missed a state court filing deadline, filing in a federal court might still be an option.

Which venue is appropriate?

If you don’t need to go to small claims court and you don’t have a statute of limitations issue, how do you know which venue to go with? This question often boils down to preference.

Some attorneys go to great lengths to try to pick the court that will be most favorable for their lawsuit. This practice is called forum shopping. Many attorneys can take the pulse of courts and have an idea about how certain types of cases usually fare in different courts.

The same goes for the reputations of judges and juries. Many attorneys think that federal court judges may be more forgiving than state court judges, or vice-versa. Jury panels can also differ greatly based on whether it’s a state or federal court.

Another consideration is the location of the court. For example, a lawyer might suggest filing a lawsuit in a state court just because it’s much closer than the nearest federal courthouse. It may just be a matter of convenience.

With a range of options available, it might be useful to have a Chicago Personal Injury lawyer help figure out what’s best for you.

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Where Should You File Your Injury Lawsuit?