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Which state’s law applies?

As a practicing lawyer in the City of Chicago, I frequently meet clients who have had a motor vehicle accident which occurred in either Indiana or Wisconsin. Since most of my clients are Illinois residents, the question then becomes “which state’s law applies?” The general rule is that the law of the state where the accident happened is the controlling law.

What happens if the injured party (plaintiff) and the defendant are both Illinois residents, but the accident happened in Indiana? In what state should litigation be commenced?

The general rule is that a lawsuit can be brought in either Indiana or the state (Illinois) in which the defendant resides.
So in this case, even though the lawsuit could be filed in Cook County, Illinois, for example, the controlling law or motor vehicle code would be Indiana’s, the state where the accident occurred.

With interstate travel being a daily feature of many folks’ commute, it is important to understand that the location of an accident could play a significant factor in where a claim can be brought and which state’s law governs the proceedings.


Kevin M. O’Brien

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