There's really only one reason the defense wants to know where you live.
You see, when you start a lawsuit for a car accident matter or a medical malpractice case or even a wrongful death case, the defense ALWAYS wants to know where you live.
It's not that they have an idle curiousity about whether you live in an apartment or a private home. It's not that they're curious about the neighborhood you live in. It's not that they're bored and want to learn who you live with. Instead, there's an important legal reason why they need to know where you live.
A little background first...
When you decide to bring a lawsuit here in NY, your attorney has to determine WHERE to file your lawsuit.
Let me explain...
There are often multiple places an injured victim can file a lawsuit. There are different counties within the State of New York where the lawsuit might be allowed to be filed. This is known in legal circles as selecting the venue.
All that means is that the injured victim has the ability to choose which county his case will be in. In some cases, the injured victim has no choice, but in many others, there is a choice.
How does an injured victim choose which county he should file his lawsuit?
The answer is that the injured victim does not know which county the case should be brought. Instead, he relies on the attorney to explain to him the most favorable county.
You might ask yourself how one county could be more favorable than others to an injured victim.
Think about it this way...
Think about the jurors who attend court for jury duty. Where do those jurors come from? What towns? What is their background? What is their ancestry? What is their religion? What are their beliefs and attitudes?
An obvious 'hidden' secret that most attorneys don't talk about is that some jurors in some counties tend to favor injured victims compared to some other counties. There are racial biases and prejudices. Every attorney who tries cases has some preconceived ideas about the type of jurors who sit on cases in different counties. That's a fact.
Some of those preconceived ideas are wrong. Some are accurate. The fact remains that some counties, as a whole, are more conservative in their jury verdicts than others.
Now when an attorney is choosing which is the best venue for your case, he must choose based on a number of factors.
We need to look at which county YOU live in.
We need to look at which county the people you are suing live.
If you are suing a company, we need to look at where the company is located.
In a car accident case, some attorneys would prefer to bring the lawsuit in the county where the accident happened rather than where the injured victim lives.
There are specific rules that tell us where we can bring a civil lawsuit that seeks compensation for the harms and losses you have suffered.
If this was a car accident that happened in Manhattan and you live on the Upper West Side and the driver who caused your accident lives in Nassau County on Long Island, you will likely have a choice between filing suit in New York County (at 60 Centre Street in downtown Manhattan) or in Nassau County.
If this is a medical malpractice case and you live in the Bronx and your medical care was in Westchester and the doctors who caused you harm work in Westchester, there's a good chance you will bring your lawsuit in the Bronx.
What happens though if you live in Queens and were in a car accident in Suffolk County while spending the day in the Hamptons? Where can you bring your case? More importantly, if you decide to bring your lawsuit in Brooklyn, in Kings County and you live in Queens and your accident happened in Suffolk, what do you think will happen?
The defense will ask "Where does the injured victim live?"
If the injured victim lives in Queens and there is no connection to Brooklyn at all, now the defense will ask the court to change the venue where the case is pending. The defense attorneys will show to the court that you, as the injured victim, have an absolute right to choose the place where your case will be held. However, you must do so based on the established rule of law.
If you have chosen the place of your lawsuit incorrectly, you now lose the ability to pick your venue. That means that the defense now gets to choose. In this example, the defense will likely choose Suffolk County as the place where your accident case will be held.
Does that help or hurt your case?
The reality is that you never truly know until you're picking a jury and trying your case.
To answer the question above, the defense wants to know where you live to determine if you have selected the correct place for your lawsuit. In fact, in the paperwork that is used to start your lawsuit, we must state clearly what your address is and the basis for choosing that particular county for your lawsuit.
If we choose the wrong place, in all likelihood, the court will transfer the case to the appropriate county, which by the way, results in additional delay in proceeding forward with your lawsuit.