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Remember that for property damage and injury claims in Georgia, you sue the Defendant driver, not their insurance company. The next inquiry is, “what county do I sue them in?” In the law, the proper court is known as the “venue.” You must pick the correct venue or the case can be thrown out. In addition to venue, you must have the correct method for the court to obtain “jurisdiction” over the defendant. In layman’s terms, Jurisdiction is “the power to tell someone what do do.”
The venue is the county in which the driver lives at the time you file the suit and remember they may have moved since the police report was written so you may need to run a skip trace with a company like accurint.com. Georgia citizens have a Constitutional right to only be sued in their home county. Ga. Const. 1983, Art 6, Sec. 2, Par. 6
Once the suit is filed and the sheriff serves the driver, the court has jurisdiction over the person.
You can either sue them under the Long Arm Statute or the Non-Resident Motorist Statute
Georgia Long-Arm Statute: OCGA Sec. 9-10-91(1)
The proper venue is the County where the crash happened. If you sue them under this statute or have to because they used to live in Georgia and now live elsewhere, you still need to get them served. The best practice is to hire a locally authorized PI or the sheriff local to the defendant’s county to get them served. Once served you have jurisdiction over them.
Georgia Non-Resident Motorist Act: OCGA Sec. 40-12-1
If the person did not live in Georgia at the time of the car accident and still does not, this statute gives you more options. The venue can be your home county or the county where the crash happened. Having more choices is better. Why does venue matter so much? Simple, metro county juries and judges are less harsh on personal injury cases.
Once again there is a complex service procedure you can use, but I prefer to just serve the defendant in their home state to be safe.
Service on a corporation is made by serving an officer (CEO, CFO) a managing or general agent or upon any employee whose job is important enough that they will communicate the lawsuit to their superior. For example, a janitor or fry cook is not high enough up to count. A store or branch manager should be ok. You can always sue the registered agent on file with the Georgia Secretary of State. OCGA Sec. 9-11-4 (e)(1)
The venue is proper in the county where the corporation has a registered office or in the County where the harm happened if they had an office and transacted business in that County. Look up the registered office with the Secretary of State site.