When it comes to litigation – the process of taking legal action to bring a lawsuit – these proceedings can take place in either state or federal courts. Although the vast majority of personal injury cases are handled in state courts, there are some cases that can be tried in federal court. A federal personal injury case is unusual because it must meet a specific set of criteria.

There are two scenarios in which you can file a personal injury case in federal court:

1) Diversity of Citizenship – To file in federal court under this criteria, the plaintiff and defendant must have different citizenship; that is, if they are citizens of different states within the United States, or if one or both of them is a citizen of another country, then the federal courts would have jurisdiction there. Under this condition, the amount of damages must also be high – with the plaintiff claiming $75,000 or more in damages. Both of these conditions must be satisifed in this scenario.

2) Federal Rule – The case might also be tried in federal court if it’s an issue of federal law. For example, injuries that a worker experiences while working offshore, under the Jones Act, or while working on a railroad, under FELA claims, might qualify as a federal rule scenario. It may also apply in other situations.

The above criteria help determine whether a personal injury case can be filed in federal court, but that does not necessarily mean that it should be. Federal court litigation is notoriously complex, and may not be in your best interest. If you are the plaintiff and a defendant files to remove your case to federal court, this may be because the defense sees a distinct advantage to proceeding in federal court. In these cases, it’s vital to hire an experienced, trustworthy personal injury attorney to help negotiate, navigate the paperwork and filing procedures, and translate legal jargon.

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