Don't be surprised if you are involved in an auto accident with another car and the other driver files a claim against you despite your belief in your innocence. Some people do that to stop you from filing liability claims against them. Fortunately, a claim against you does not stop you from making your move — you can even file a counterclaim against that motorist.
What It Means
A counterclaim is a legal claim against the motorist who files the first claim. Your counterclaim won't be a separate legal claim — rather, it is a claim based on the original accident that the other party has filed. Therefore, if you have a separate claim against the other party, you must handle it in a different claim.
If you want to file a counterclaim, you must first wait for the other party to serve you with their claim. Next, you must file a reply to the other party's allegations. After that, you can file a counterclaim with the court, and the two claims proceed as an intergrade case.
Auto accident cases usually settle outside the court — about 95% of them. However, you reserve the right to sue the other party if your negotiations fail. The same principles apply to cases involving counterclaims — you negotiate first and only proceed to trial if you can't reach an agreement.
During the trial, both parties will take their turns to present evidence of their cases and defense to the other party's claims. The court will give both of you equal chances to be heard. Most jurisdictions have clear outlines on who goes first during counterclaim trials.
The Role of Car Insurance
You don't have to worry about claims and counterclaims if you have valid auto insurance coverage. Auto insurance companies usually handle claims on behalf of their clients. For example, if a motorist files a claim against you, your insurance carrier will take charge of your defense.
The same thing applies to a case involving a counterclaim. In fact, your auto insurance company will decide and file the counterclaim on your behalf. Most people find it unproductive to file counterclaims without their insurance carrier's involvement. You will only have a problem if you don't have auto insurance — in which case you must handle everything on your own.
As you can see, various parties can file different claims on the same accident. The court will evaluate all the issues at hand and make its legal ruling.
To know more about auto accident counterclaims, contact an auto accident attorney near you.