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What is Jurisdiction?

Many times, we consider the judicial system to be a single, cohesive establishment. However, courts are required to hear a wide variety of cases, ranging from matters as insignificant as a speeding ticket to those as significant as committing fraud against the federal government. In most cases, the judicial system in each state, as well as the judicial system at the federal level, is composed of specialized courts that are only responsible for hearing particular types of cases. A court’s ability to hear certain types of cases is referred to as its jurisdiction.

Both the nature of the case and the gravity of the allegations against the defendant can play a role in determining which court has jurisdiction. Because of the significant similarities and differences between civil and criminal cases, a court that primarily deals with the former may not accept local civil lawsuits. 

In a similar manner, the Georgia Superior Court will hear felony criminal cases, which are extremely serious, but not misdemeanor cases such as traffic violations. Misdemeanor cases, such as traffic violations, are dealt with by the local branch of the State Court or even smaller local courts.

Last but not least, there are some courts whose sole purpose is to review appeals from decisions made by lower courts. One such court is the Georgia Supreme Court.

It is imperative that you submit your case to the appropriate court. Should you fail to do so, the defendant may move to have the case dismissed, which would require you to refile your claim in the appropriate court. This takes both time and money, and depending on the circumstances, it may even cause you to miss the deadline for filing a claim. In other scenarios, submitting your paperwork to the incorrect court could result in the judge dismissing your case.

In What Court Should I File My Lawsuit?

There are two primary courts in the state of Georgia that have the authority to hear your personal injury lawsuit:

Magistrate Court: If there is a local Magistrate Court that covers your area and if the total damages you’re requesting amount to no more than $15,000, then the Magistrate Court will take your case. This occurs most frequently with relatively minor injuries. 

State Court: In the event that your damages total more than $15,000 or if there is no Magistrate Court in your area, your case may be transferred to the State Court. State courts hear a significant number of cases involving auto accidents.

There are also some scenarios in which you might be able to bring your case before a federal court instead. For example: 

  • If the parties involved in your case are from different states, you would be eligible to go to federal court. For instance, if you live in Georgia and were involved in an accident that was caused by a driver in Florida, you have the option of filing a claim in federal court.
  • If your case involves a law from the federal government, you would be eligible to go to federal court. For instance, if you believe that another company stole your patented invention in violation of the federal patent law, you have the option to bring your case before the federal court system. Federal courts hear cases such as class action lawsuits and product recalls of potentially harmful drugs.

You need to find a seasoned attorney who has worked on cases that are similar to yours in the past. Your attorney will be able to select the appropriate court for your case and ensure that it is filed in the correct manner. In some instances, they may even have the option of filing in a number of different courts, from which they can select the one that will be most favorable to the type of case you are involved in.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Brown Firm

If you have been injured, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!

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