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In What County Will My Lawsuit Be Filed?

When someone believes they have been harmed they often turn to the judicial system for a remedy. But what happens if the potential defendant lives in another location? Although a person’s first inclination may be to seek out the help of an attorney in their city, they must first determine whether it is even appropriate for the local court to preside over their case.

Focusing solely on Florida, “venue” is the term used to define which court should be tasked with hearing a case.  The most basic rule regarding venue is that a lawsuit can be brought only in the county (1) where the defendant resides, (2) where the cause of action accrued (meaning where the harm took place), or (3) where the property in the litigation is located. 
This means that if a Volusia County resident was not paid for work he or she performed in Miami-Dade County they are almost certainly going to have to file a lawsuit several hundred miles away. Obviously, litigating in another area of Florida is not ideal given travel costs and having to likely hire an attorney who is relatively, if not completely, unknown to you. 
One way to avoid losing “home field advantage” is to make sure any contract you enter into contains a “venue provision” or “forum selection clause”.  Venue provisions allow parties to agree that any litigation resulting from a contract will be initiated in a specific court located within a defined geographic area. A good venue provision is extremely valuable and can save a potential plaintiff a substantial amount of money.
If you are someone that frequently conducts business away from your county of residence you should consider taking the time to have your contracts reviewed for provisions that may be to your advantage should litigation arise.