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Where to File a Lawsuit in a Local Venue

where to file a lawsuitVenue refers to the county where a lawsuit should be properly filed and brought to trial. Each county in Missouri has its own separate Circuit and Associate Circuit Courts.The Associate Circuit Courts have jurisdiction to try cases where the amount in controversy is up to $25,000.Circuit Courts can hear all cases irrespective of the amount in controversy. The amount in controversy deals with the issue of jurisdiction between the Missouri circuit and Associate Circuit Courts.The county where the court is located deals with the issue of “venue.”

Prior to 2005, Missouri accident victims and their lawyers had a choice of different counties to file the lawsuit, being:

  1. when the defendant was a Missouri resident, where the defendant motorist resided,
  2. when the defendant was a Missouri resident, in the county where the plaintiff victim resided and the Defendant motorist could be found,
  3. where there were multiple defendants, where any defendant motorist could be found,
  4. where the defendant was not a Missouri resident, the case could be filed in any county in Missouri, and lastly,
  5. where the cause of action was “deemed to have accrued.”

Under the above venue scheme, the victim had choices in where his or her personal injury case could be filed. If the defendant was a corporation, there were other rules that applied.

In 2005, Missouri law was changed and the above choices no longer exist.Missouri law now provides “venue” in all tort actions is in the county where the plaintiff or victim was first injured by the wrongful acts or negligence alleged.Past laws giving the choice of venue were swept away.Now, the plaintiff is considered first injured where the trauma or exposure first occurred rather than where the symptoms are first manifested.

While Missouri law does not now define “exposure”, the plain language definition of that term includes the “condition of being subject to financial loss,” as per Webster’s Dictionary.Simply put, now cases are filed where the Missouri motor vehicle accident occurred.