Claims for relief in civil cases can arise under either federal law or state law. It can sometimes be confusing, however, to determine which law applies. Even more confusing is the fact that sometimes both federal law and state law may apply to your claims. 

However, in order to determine where your lawsuit should be filed, you must attempt to determine which law applies. This is so because federal courts are courts of “limited jurisdiction.” This means that federal courts can only hear certain types of cases and claims. 

In civil cases, federal law will generally apply if your claims arise from an alleged violation of your constitutional rights, if you believe you were discriminated or subject to sexual harassment in your employment, or if your claims relate to other federal rights. 

By contrast, if your claims arise from a breach of contract, a personal injury, or injury to your property, state law will likely apply. If your claims arise from state law only, the federal court can only hear your case in limited circumstances. These limited circumstances will only be apply if you and the defendants reside in different states and you claim damages in excess of $75,000.00. 

Click the button below titled, “General Information” for additional resources and information that may assist you in determining whether you claims arise under state vs. federal law.