Are you being sued for negligence that resulted in a personal injury? One of the most difficult things about having to defend yourself against such a lawsuit is when you feel that you are not the one at fault for the accident. Can you turn the tables and sue the other party? Yes, and a counterclaim may be the right way to do it. Here's what you need to know about counterclaims.
What is a Lawsuit Counterclaim?
In a standard personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff brings a complaint against a defendant. The plaintiff presents their argument as to why the defendant is liable, and the defendant responds with their side of the story. The jury then decides two things: whether the defendant is liable and for how much damages.
A counterclaim becomes both part of this process and a separate one. If you wish to argue that the plaintiff is, in fact, partially or wholly liable instead, you may notify the court of your counterclaim. Both parties present their cases, but the jury now reaches verdicts about the liability and damages for both sides.
How Does a Counterclaim Help You?
The biggest advantage of a counterclaim is that you can seek damages from the other party without paying for and going through an entirely new trial. This is a big money and time saver.
A counterclaim can also help mitigate any damages that the jury may impose against you. The legal doctrines related to shared fault for an accident mean that if you prove the other party was at least partially at fault, you may get a percentage deducted from any damages you are liable for. And in states which follow contributory negligence, the other party may not be able to collect any damages if they were at fault even a little.
What Are the Limits of Counterclaims?
In general, your ability to counterclaim is limited by two major factors. First, the counterclaim must involve the same set of facts as the original claim. This is because the two cases will be argued in one trial, so they cannot include other factors such as other incidents or other parties.
Second, if your insurance carrier is involved in your defense, they may make the decision about lodging a counterclaim. Some defendants can counterclaim even if their insurer doesn't want to, but others cannot.
Where Can You Learn More?
Could a counterclaim be the right move in your personal injury case? Find out by meeting with an accident lawyer today.Share