Choosing the right Court for your case

When I have my initial meeting with clients, I am always most interested in my first question: Where do you reside? The reason is that I am already thinking about the Court in which I may begin your lawsuit.

Firstly,the jurors in each county have their own “personality.” Staten Island (Richmond), Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester (and to a large degree, Manhattan (New York County) are places where jurors are more conservative.  They are not particularly fond of lawsuits and are generally inclined to find in favor of defendants in civil cases.  Their jury awards are classically lower than in other counties. Part of the reason is that Staten Island jurors are usually working class people who own their own homes.  They pay high taxes and high insurance premiums.  This means that they are watching every penny and are wary of “giving away money” to injured persons.

Richmond in particular is a place that is in a demographic transition.  The jurors are becoming more urban, younger, and from a wider base of ethnic groups.  That could be the signal for a more liberal, Plaintiff-friendly county.

I like to choose potential jurors who have suffered prior injuries, who have lived through the difficult time following an accident.  They are more aware of the stress of being injured and also paying the bills. I also prefer parents of young children because of the fragility of life while raising a family.  At any moment, a “breadwinner” can lose it all as as result of an accident.

If you are a New York resident and are involved in an accident with an out-of-state resident, I sometimes prefer to start a lawsuit in Federal Court.  The Federal Courts will permit a litigant to start a lawsuit in that Court if the parties have 100% “diversity of citizenship.”  One of the advantages of Federal Court (in Brooklyn) is that if your claim is more than $75,000 but less than $150,000, you automatically qualify for Mandatory Arbitration.  The advantage of this situation is 1) less cost than a trial, 2) quicker justice, and 3) the arbitrator is selected through an objective process.

If you have been involved in an accident, please feel free to reach me, Charles DeStefano, for a full discussion about your case.

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