North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Car Accident Lawsuit Involving Out-of-State Resident Based on Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

In some car accident cases, a question can arise regarding whether the defendant can be sued in the state where the accident happened or in another jurisdiction. There are rules that require a person to have minimum contacts with a jurisdiction in order for him or her to be sued in its courts. This can become an issue in situations where the defendant was traveling through a particular area or wants to sue the defendant in a jurisdiction closer to his or her home state. The diligent Raleigh car accident lawyers at Maurer Law are prepared to make sure that your case is filed properly and that you can defend against any issues the defendant raises regarding jurisdiction.

In a recent appellate opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether a Texas resident was properly sued in North Carolina following a two-car accident that happened in Austin, Texas. The plaintiff filed a complaint for negligence in Wake County, North Carolina and the defendant answered with a motion to dismiss on the basis that the defendant was a resident of the State of Texas and did not have any contacts with North Carolina. The court eventually concluded that because the defendant did not maintain any contacts with North Carolina, the court there did not have jurisdiction over the defendant. The defendant did not run a business in the state, have bank accounts there, visit regularly, or own property in North Carolina.

The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the case based on the lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. First, the court noted that to fall within North Carolina’s jurisdiction, the party must have “engaged in substantial activity within the state. The appellate court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that because the defendant exchanged a series of text messages with the plaintiff, the defendant could properly be sued in North Carolina. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff instigated these text communications. The conversations were limited to the cost of repairs and the status of insurance claims. There was one phone call between the parties for the purpose of discussing the same information.

Also, the fact that the defendant had made six trips to North Carolina for family trips and visiting friends did not rise to the level of creating sufficient minimum contacts for the purpose of exercising jurisdiction over the defendant, either. The trips had no relationship to the accident either.

If you were injured in a car accident with someone who lives in another state, it is critical that you speak to a seasoned Raleigh car accident lawyer to make sure that you understand your rights and the best way to go about collecting compensation. At Maurer Law, we offer a free and private consultation with one of our attorneys so that you can discuss your potential case and how we may be able to assist you. This situation may feel overwhelming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Contact us today to learn more about your rights at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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