This is the fourth post in my blog series: Personal Injury Claim Value: Key Variables. This fourth post addresses injury value key variable #4: Where you are (the location of the court hearing your case
4. Where you are
Where the injury incident occurred or where the defendant resides, are both proper venues for trial. Plaintiff as the filer of initial the court papers (a pleading known as “the complaint”) has initial control over where a case is litigated although a defendant can challenge venue. A Judge’s decision as to where a case will be tried is given great weight.
In the Portland metro area it is generally accepted that Multnomah County is the most preferred venue from an injured person’s point of view. Washington County, by contrast is known to be the least favorable jurisdiction for persons with injury cases. King County, Washington is generally known as a pro-plaintiff jurisdiction. Keep in mind, many exceptions and variables exist such as the judge assigned, the specific issues presented, attorneys, presentation of witnesses and the specific jurors selected.
A jury pool in one county can differ enormously from a jury pool in the next county over. Federal court jurors draw from the relevant federal district, a larger and more diverse pool. Here again, judges are granted great discretion in deciding which jurors sit on your case provided the potential juror agrees to decide the case objectively and without bias.
But, few jurors will openly admit bias. The reality is prejudice is alive and well everywhere, often lurking underneath the surface, sometimes only in the subconscious mind. I have found that juror are more likely to shortchange those with whom they cannot identify with. In other words, insiders tend to get better results than outsiders. If you find yourself in unfriendly jurisdiction an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation should be strongly considered.