When you file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for an auto accident, the defendant may take the opportunity to file a counterclaim against you. A counterclaim is different than an answer to a lawsuit because the goal of the is to reduce the amount of the damages you're awarded by collecting compensation for another matter related to the accident. If you receive a counterclaim from the defendant, here's how you must handle it.
Make Note of Any Affirmative Statements
A counterclaim is essentially a lawsuit filed against you by the defendant—it's also commonly referred to as a countersuit—so you must treat it as such. However, the defendant's counterclaim can provide a lot of useful information that can help your case, so it's critical you read the claim carefully and make not of any statements that can be used against the defendant or provide insights that could help you win the case.
For instance, the defendant may claim he or she has cellphone video of you running a stop sign. Although the purpose of this claim may be to prove you were liable for the accident in some way, it can also indicate the defendant was using his or her phone at the time the accident occurred and not paying full attention to the road. This can help you prove the defendant was driving distracted and should bear some of or all the weight of the responsibility for the incident.
Answer the Claim Paragraph by Paragraph
Once you've read the claim and extracted useful information from it, you need to actually formulate an answer to it. It's important you do this paragraph by paragraph because, if you fail to address any of the issues raised in the counterclaim, the court will automatically assume you agree those issues are true and correct. If the defendant claims you ran a stop sign and you don't dispute that allegation, the court will assume that aspect of the defendant's counterclaim is correct, for example.
Thus, respond to all the points you don't agree to or admit that are brought up in the counterclaim. Use clear and concise language whenever possible and be sure to include any and all relevant facts and laws to defend yourself and prove your points. Additionally, be sure to provide an answer to any defense the defendant may use to deny liability for the accident.
For help responding to a counterclaim or assistance with an auto accident case, contact a car accident attorney.