The purpose of our legal system is to provide fair resolutions to disputes and ensure due process of law for all citizens. To establish fairness, there are rules about where you can file a lawsuit against someone in Georgia.
However, that location can sometimes create bias or inconvenience for a particular party. If this is the case, your Duluth personal injury lawyer might file a motion for a change of venue. Let’s explore what a motion for a change of venue entails.
Where You Are Required to File a Lawsuit in Georgia
According to Georgia law, you must file a lawsuit in the county in which a substantial part of your accident occurred or where the subject injury happened. If one defendant lives in the state and another does not, the one who is not a resident can still be added as a party in the Georgia county where the event you are suing for happened.
Georgia has 49 superior court circuits that handle the majority of personal injury and accident cases retained by our firm. It is important your lawsuit is filed in the correct court and venue, or a judge can dismiss your case.
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When You Should File for a Change of Venue
There are times when the proper venue for your lawsuit may not be the fairest for one or more of the parties involved. If justice is an issue, a motion for a change of venue can be filed. Judges in Georgia may agree to transfer your case to another venue if an impartial jury cannot be acquired in the county in which your case is pending.
Other times, lawyers may consider filing a motion for a change of venue can include when they are trying to cut down on litigation costs. Traveling long distances to court for hearings or trials can become expensive quickly.
Jurors in certain areas are occasionally known to be more likely to award higher damages to injured parties. These decisions can sometimes be swayed by the income and employment rates in those areas. There are many factors that help attorneys determine when a change of venue may be beneficial to their clients.
Reasons to Consider Requesting a Change of Venue in Georgia
There are several reasons why you might ask the court to have your case moved to a different location due to the increased likelihood of a biased jury:
- News coverage: If your case has garnered a lot of media attention, potential jurors may be familiar with certain details of your case and have already formed an opinion.
- Community characteristics: If your community is small, it may make it difficult to pick an impartial jury due to relational status or public sentiment before your trial even begins.
- Reputation of parties: If any of the parties involved in your lawsuit are well-known in your county and are generally already liked or disliked, an unbiased jury will be difficult to obtain.
- Nature of the cause of action: The more serious the accident or injury involved in your lawsuit, the more likely it is that potential jurors are already somewhat familiar with your case.
The purpose of the legal system is to provide due process to all parties involved. If a plaintiff or defendant cannot be guaranteed a fair trial due to the case’s location, it should be transferred to a different venue.
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How a Change of Venue Is Decided
If it is determined that an unbiased trial is unlikely in your lawsuit’s current location, the parties and their attorneys can agree to have the case moved to another venue. If all parties agree the case should be transferred to a different county, they should then try to agree on the county to which it should be moved.
There are times when the parties will not agree about whether an unbiased jury can be chosen, however. If the parties cannot agree on whether the case should be transferred to another venue, the presiding judge can hear arguments from all parties on why the location should or should not be moved. The judge will then make a ruling based on the arguments presented.
A judge can also make the determination to transfer a case to a different venue without an attorney making a formal motion to do so. This is known as a sua sponte transfer, meaning “of one’s own accord.” The judge can change the venue of a case multiple times if determined necessary for a fair trial.
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How a Personal Injury Lawyer in Georgia Can File a Change of Venue
If your attorneys decide it is necessary to file a motion for a change of venue, there are certain procedures the parties must follow.
The attorneys requesting the change in venue must:
- Specify the proper venue in which the case should be tried
- Outline their basis for requesting the change of venue
- Serve copies of their motion to all other parties involved in the case
- Pay a transfer fee if their motion is granted
The opposing parties must:
- File their opposition within the time allowed by the Georgia rules of procedure
- Discuss why the current venue is proper and why the motion should be denied
The court also has guidelines to follow when a change of venue motion is filed:
- It may postpone any other proceedings in the case until a determination is made about the venue.
- It must prepare a written order designating the new court to which the case is to be transferred if the motion is granted.
- It must notify all parties of the change in venue if the motion is granted.
How Do You Pick a Venue?
Deciding which venue to file your case in can be a strategic decision. Sometimes, that decision is based on the likelihood of obtaining a higher damages award.
Sometimes, it is based on monetary decisions, such as case costs. Other times, the decision to move for a change in venue can be based on convenience factors such as travel time.
Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Today
Whatever the reasons for considering a potential change in venue, Barrios Virgüez Attorneys can help you determine the best location for your lawsuit. We can also work to file a motion to change your case’s location if necessary. We have the knowledge needed to help you get a fair, unbiased trial.
Contact us today to help you determine an appropriate venue that gives you the fairest trial and best chance at receiving the largest recovery in your case. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss the details of your case and why you believe a change of venue will help your case.