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Can a Non-Citizen Sue Someone in the United States?

Recently a tragedy occurred where a man visiting the Bay Area from the U.K. was struck and killed by a U.S. driver. According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident happened when the man was riding  down Highway 1, south of Davenport Landing Road Thursday, May 27th, 2019, and was hit by a U.S. citizen.

The man was ejected from his bicycle and was hit by two other vehicles. It was truly a tragedy, and our thoughts go out to this man’s family and loved ones. The man died from his injuries and the CHP is still investigating the incident, and it’s unknown if any charges will be filed.

Outsider’s Justice in the U.S.

But is there anything the family can do about it? Can they sue in the U.S. even though they aren’t citizens and weren’t even in the country when it happened? It turns out that U.S. citizenship isn’t necessary to sue a U.S. citizen if the alleged incident happened on U.S. soil.

In a wrongful death claim in the U.S., the surviving family members can sue the person who was at fault in the death of their family member. If the death happened on U.S. soil, then it doesn’t matter if the family members are citizens of a foreign country.

Residence Does Matter

However, residence does make a difference on where you would file and try the case. This can make a significant difference in a case, and it is based on where the parties reside. For example, if the deceased’s family were residents living in the U.S., they could file the suit either in the state where the incident happened or where the defendant lives.

Foreign Citizenship Advantage

However, since they are foreign citizens, they could also claim they were residents of their own country, and this would allow them to file in federal court or move the case to federal court if already filed. In many cases, this can be a huge advantage and put the defendant at a disadvantage. This is based on what’s called diversity jurisdiction and it’s where the plaintiff and defendant are not from the same state.  The foreigners can use their citizenship from their home country for this purpose.

They also must have a controversy of over $75,000, but this can be met by requesting at least $75,000 in the complaint and even if the jury awards a much lower amount, it will still be valid.

How do I sue if I’m a Non-Citizen?

The best thing to do is to get an attorney in the U.S., preferably in the state where you are going to sue. Then you need to also make sure this attorney is experienced in the type of lawsuit you are filing. If it is a wrongful death based on a bicycle accident, then you need to speak to the attorneys at Bay Area Bike Law because they have the knowledge and experience of both personal injury and bicycle law.

In fact, they are the only firm in north California that deals exclusively with bicycle law. A consultation is free, and if you decide to have them represent you, there are no fees paid until you get paid by the insurance company.

Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.