Choice of Venue
means the location of the trial. In North Carolina, the victim is allowed to choose the county where the lawsuit will be filed. Pursuant to N.C.G.S. 1-82, the civil action may be filed in the county where the plaintiff resides or where the defendant resides, and if none of the parties reside in North Carolina, the action may be filed in any county that the plaintiff chooses.
Almost all injury cases are filed in North Carolina’s state court system. However, in rare cases, attorneys choose to file the action and litigate in federal court. Under 28 U.S.C. 1391, venue in federal civil actions is proper in:
- a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same state;
- a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or errors giving rise to the claim occurred; or
- if there is no district anywhere in the United States that satisfies 1 or 2, a judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court’s “personal jurisdiction” with respect to such action.
Choice of venue can be very important in North Carolina. Small rural counties tend to be extremely conservative, and juries in these areas render surprisingly low verdicts even in serious injury cases. Major metropolitan areas are typically more favorable for the injury victim. If more than one county is available as a viable trial venue, legal research should be conducted to compare verdict trends in each alternative venue/county. If the counties have relatively similar verdict trends, the plaintiff should choose his or her home county. Since the trial would be conducted in the county where suit is filed, it also wise to consider the location of doctors and other witnesses who may be called to attend trial when selecting the most appropriate trial venue.