Know Your Venue!
One of the most significant factors in determining the value of a personal injury case is where the lawsuit will be filed, or as it is known in the legal world, venue. In Maryland, there are a few venues that are known to be friendly to plaintiffs, but many others that are more conservative and less favorable.
There is also a statute that specifically lays out exactly where plaintiffs are or are not allowed to file suit. And it is nowhere near as clear cut and obvious as it may seem. For example, I think most people assume that you can file suit in the county where the accident or negligence occurred. That is, of course, true, but that is far from the only venue where a plaintiff can file. In fact, in addition the location of the incident, you can also file a lawsuit in the county where the defendant resides, engages in a vocation or maintains its principal place of business. So a good plaintiff’s attorney will always look for ways to file in a favorable forum over an unfavorable one.
To give an example, I once had a client who was injured at an establishment in Ocean City. Worcester County on the eastern shore is considered a poor venue for plaintiffs. However, in doing some investigation and research prior to filing, I noticed that the corporate entity that owned the restaurant had its corporate headquarters in Sparks, which is in Baltimore County. Based on that, I filed the lawsuit in Baltimore County and the opposing attorneys were incredulous and immediately filed a motion to have the case transferred to Worcester County.
However, at the hearing on the motion, I set forth exactly what the statute said and why I was legally within my rights to file the lawsuit where I did, even though the incident had occurred in a totally different part of the state. And the Judge agreed with my position and denied their request to transfer the venue.
In fact, I have faced many such motions in my career and it’s very rare that I am unable to keep the case venue in the county that is more favorable to my client. Knowing the law and how to apply it is not just theoretical – it can and does make a substantial difference to how a case resolves and helping ensure that my clients get the best result possible.