Can I Sue for a Negligent Injury in a Foreign Country?

Each year, millions of people travel to other countries for business or vacation. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries can happen to anyone no matter where they are in the world. Accidents in other countries can range from car accidents to minor slip and falls in public areas. If you suffer an injury while in another country, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney for help with the laws of the region. To protect your legal rights as an accident victim in a foreign country, learn them with help from the following frequently asked questions.

Can I File My Claim in the USA?

Knowing where to file a personal injury claim after an accident in another country is the first step in seeking compensation. To hear a claim and make a judgment on your behalf, the court you file with must have jurisdiction over the case in question. It is possible for your home country to have jurisdiction of your case despite the incident occurring overseas. For a U.S. court to acquire personal jurisdiction over the case, the plaintiff must prove the following:

  1. The defendant is present in the jurisdiction in which he or she is filing the lawsuit.
  2. The defendant either lives or works within the jurisdiction.
  3. The defendant agrees to the personal jurisdiction.
  4. The defendant sustains minimum contact with the jurisdiction.

Unless the plaintiff can present one of these reasons for the USA to take jurisdiction of the case, he or she will have to file the claim in the country where the defendants live and/or where the accident occurred. In many cases, however, the plaintiff has the choice of jurisdiction, and will be able to bring the claim in the U.S. courts.

How Does an American Court Persuade Another Country to Relinquish Jurisdiction?

American travelers who suffer injuries in other countries might need to bring claims against cruise lines, hotels, tour bus companies, or other types of public operations. In some cases, the defendant of the foreign business or association might try to dismiss the lawsuit in the U.S. by stating that coming to the States to defend a lawsuit is inconvenient. Luckily, there is a common defense to this statement.

If the hotel company, cruise ship, or other type of vacation company specifically promoted their ability to bring customers abroad, then they have purposely opted to have “minimum contact” with the United States. This indicates that the law can oblige the company to show up in an American court of law in the event of a personal injury lawsuit. The most common ways the courts make jurisdiction decisions are by looking at the relationship between the traveler and the defendant, the responsibilities of the defendant, and the defendant’s alleged negligence.

What If I Assumed Some Risks While Traveling?

In some cases, the defendant might try to argue the plaintiff assumed certain risks by engaging in the activity or that the defendant escapes liability because the plaintiff signed a waiver. If there is a specific clause in the travel ticket, registration forms, or other agreement made upon travel that protects the company from liability, this does not necessarily mean the plaintiff loses the right to bring a suit. These agreements do not protect a company from lawsuits based on negligence.

If a liability clause protected a company from all lawsuits, the company would have free rein to do whatever they liked with customers. This is not the case. Companies and individuals must still obey the law and keep customers reasonably safe from harm. If the defendant acted in a way that another party would not have in the same circumstances, it might be guilty of negligence. In these cases, it will not matter if you signed a waiver – you could still be eligible for recovery. Always talk to a lawyer about lawsuits involving out-of-country accidents and injuries, as these cases can be complex.