Venue is the legally proper place where a plaintiff is entitled to file his lawsuit and begin his case. Each state has its own set of rules which establish the proper venue for different types of lawsuits. The State of Georgia is divided into 159 counties. In Georgia, venue for where you file your personal injury lawsuit depends on who is the responsible party for your injury. The following three scenarios are what you typically find.
Victim is injured by a Georgia Driver
When an accident occurs within the State of Georgia, and it is between two Georgia residents, then suit is filed in the defendant driver’s county of residence. So for example, if Driver A crashes into Driver B while they are driving in Fulton County and Driver A lives in Henry County, then Driver B must file his suit in Henry County not Fulton. It does not matter that Drivers A and B were in Fulton nor does it matter where Driver B lives in Georgia.
Victim is injured by an Out-of-State Driver
When an accident occurs within the State of Georgia between an out-of-state motorist and a Georgia resident, then the injured resident may file suit either (a) in the county where the collision occurred, or (b) in the Plaintiff’s county of residence. It’s up to the plaintiff which county he wants to file in. Pursuant to the “Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act” which is codified in O.C.G.A. § 40-12-1, the plaintiff must serve the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office with a copy of the Summons and Complaint and mail a copy to the defendant at his address.
Victim is injured by a Georgia Corporation
A Georgia corporation can be sued pursuant to O.C.G.A. §14-2-510. The key provisions of the statute for a personal injury lawsuit states as follows:
(b)(1) In civil proceedings generally, suit is proper in the county where the corporation maintains its registered office; or if the corporation fails to maintain a registered office, it shall be deemed to reside in the county where its last named registered office or principal office, as shown by the records of the Secretary of State, was maintained;
(3) In actions for damages because of torts, wrong, or injury done, in the county where the cause of action originated, if the corporation has an office and transacts business in that county;
(4) In actions for damages because of torts, wrong, or injury done, in the county where the cause of action originated. If venue is based solely on this paragraph, the defendant shall have the right to remove the action to the county in Georgia where the defendant maintains its principal place of business. A notice of removal shall be filed within 45 days of service of the summons.
Applying the statute, if a Georgia company registered in Georgia has multiple offices in the State and one of its trucks causes an accident in County X and injures someone, then the injured driver can choose to file his injury lawsuit either in County X where he was injured if the Georgia company also has a store in County X (transacts business in County X), or the injured driver can file his suit in County Y where the Georgia company has its registered agent.
What’s the common theme? Know your defendant. In Georgia, and the same can be said for most states, who the defendant is, matters.