Are you thinking of taking legal action against a company or person based outside the state you are in?
Let’s say you are in California, for example. While jurisdictional issues could prevent this from occurring, there are certain conditions where it is possible for a court in California to consider your case.
Firstly, use the Secretary of State’s Companies Search tool to see if an entity has registered or incorporated within our state since only then can they be subject to liability here.
Secondly, even companies that don’t maintain offices nor operate out of The Golden State may still be held accountable legally depending on circumstances such as:
- You were injured by the business in California.
- Your property (located in California) was damaged by the business.
- The contract dispute in question was negotiated in California.
- The contract dispute in question would be performed in California.
- The business has an office, warehouse, retail establishment, or any physical facility in California, even if the headquarters is in another state.
- The business does regular business in California by selling products and/or services. The business has a sales rep who solicits you personally or by phone.
- The business advertises by sending a catalog to solicit your business, or advertises in California newspapers, magazines, or other media.
Staying within California’s borders is key, as serving court papers to a business must occur in the state for your case to be considered valid. If this requirement cannot be met, then you may need take action outside of California and file your case in either the state where it was incorporated or established.
Do you live in California but the person you need to sue lives elsewhere? If so, don’t worry! You can still take legal action with a few important caveats. Any parties filing cases must reside or be present within California – this includes both plaintiff and defendant – unless:
- You had a vehicle accident with a non-resident person while on a California road.
- The owner of the vehicle may also be sued in California if their car was being driven in California.
- The non-resident owns the property in dispute (could be an apartment or other rental housing), and the property is located in California.
- It is important to note that even if one of these conditions applies, you must be able to serve the court papers after filing the case to the other person while they are physically within California borders for the case to be valid.
If none of these conditions apply, then you may have to file your case in the state where the other person lives!