How Truck Accidents Differ in Federal and Intrastate Cases

Posted on 08/11/23

Commercial truck accidents often involve complicated circumstances that make their cases trickier than normal. For example, trucks can either drive interstate or intrastate routes. Interstate trucking companies are not under the jurisdiction of one state, which means such cases may be tried in federal court instead of a state court. 

Learn how truck accident cases differ in federal interstate and intrastate cases, then contact a truck accident lawyer in Connecticut with experience in both types of cases. 

Interstate vs. Intrastate Truck Drivers

When you see a semi-truck on the highway, you can typically assume it is an interstate truck, meaning it crosses state lines during its route. 

Commercial trucks typically make deliveries from state to state, traveling mostly on interstate highways. 

The following trucks are typically interstate trucks:

  • 16-wheelers
  • 18-wheelers
  • Tractor trailers
  • Diesel and gas tanker trucks
  • Large refrigerator trucks

However, some trucks may only work within a single state. Garbage, cement, and dump trucks are commercial vehicles that usually stay within the state. 

If your truck accident involved one of these intrastate trucks, you could treat it like any other vehicle accident case. But if an interstate vehicle caused the accident, you may be able to file your case in federal court instead of state courts.

How Is a Federal Case Different From a State Court Case? 

If the plaintiff and defendant in a truck accident case are from different states, the case may fall under a concept known as diversity jurisdiction. In this case, as long as the accident is worth at least $75,000, you can file the lawsuit in federal court — but you don’t necessarily have to. 

Federal accident cases do have their advantages over state court cases. Federal courts often have smaller caseloads than local ones, which means they can dedicate more time and attention to your accident case. These courts won’t have the local bias that a smaller state court may have; state courts sometimes favor trucking companies that provide a lot of jobs for the area. 

In contrast, state courts often award higher damages than federal courts. Additionally, if you choose a jury trial, you may expect the jurors in a state court to favor trucking accident victims over the trucking company, potentially increasing your chances of success. 

You may feel a little more intimidated filing in a federal court than a state, and your case could garner media attention. You’ll also need to ensure you meet all the requirements for a federal case; your truck accident lawyer in Connecticut can help you with that. 

Should You File in State or Federal Court?

The decision of whether to file your case in a state or federal court depends on where your accident occurred, the severity of the accident, the value of the medical bills and other damages, and your comfort in navigating a higher-level accident case. But because federal trials often move faster than state ones, and you can avoid the potential bias of a local jury, this route is worth considering if your accident meets the requirements.

Your lawyer can advise you about where to file, then guide you through the legal process regardless of where your case ends up. 

Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer in Connecticut

Whether your truck crash involved an interstate or intrastate commercial vehicle, you should work with an attorney in your local area. The attorneys at the Law Offices of James A. Welcome have extensive experience helping truck accident victims throughout Waterbury, CT, and the surrounding areas seek compensation. 

Call 203-753-7300 to request your free injury consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Connecticut.