In some cases, just as your Ohio car accident attorney is preparing your case for court, you find out that the other driver filed a claim against you. This is not a common occurrence. If the other driver files a counterclaim against you, the case will take longer to settle.
This may be a diversion to convince you to drop your claim. Or the other driver may try to buy time as they are shopping for attorneys. But it is also possible that the other driver genuinely believes that you were more at fault for the accident than they were.
In each of these situations, you will need an experienced Ohio car accident attorney to investigate the crash and determine fault. The case when the other driver files a counterclaim may result in lengthy and costly procedures.
Any lawyer’s goal is to settle the case as quickly as possible and with the best results for their client. Yes, it is possible to settle a lawsuit if your attorney can reach a reasonable agreement with the other driver’s legal counsel.
The Comparative Fault Principle Gives Hope to All Drivers Involved in a Crash
In general, if you ask two drivers “who was at fault for the car crash?”, each will point their fingers at the other. This is understandable because the driver found to be more at fault is liable to pay for the other driver’s damages – either out of their insurance coverage or out of pocket.
This heated debate around who is at fault stems from the comparative negligence principle applicable to personal injury cases in Ohio. The principle states that a person is eligible to seek damages if their percentage of fault is “not greater” than the other involved parties’ fault.
Thus, the eligible party and the at-fault party are separated by just one percent of fault. Given the costly consequences of being on the wrong side of the percentage of fault, it is quite understandable why the other driver files a counterclaim.
How Does a Counterclaim Affect Your Chances of Winning Your Case?
Anyone would reasonably believe that the person who filed a lawsuit first is the person who has the right to receive compensation. However, as any seasoned Ohio car accident attorney can attest to, this is not always the case.
In some cases, the at-fault driver hurries up to file a lawsuit as an intimidation tactic. They believe that this will convince the other driver to accept a settlement for a lower amount of money.
However, in most cases, the party who is eligible to receive compensation discovers that the other driver filed a counterclaim to their lawsuit. In each of these situations, the judge and jury will not take into consideration who filed first as a basis for establishing the outcome of the trial. It all depends on the evidence each party will produce in supporting their separate claims.
If the Other Driver Files a Counterclaim, Do I Have to Go through Two Lawsuits?
Many clients are very worried that they will have to go through two different legal procedures if the other driver files a counterclaim. Thankfully this is not the case. Civil courts are already extremely busy and have to schedule hearing new cases weeks or months after they are filed.
Thus, a counterclaim will be heard during the same procedure as the original car accident lawsuit. Here is a quick outlook at the proceedings you may expect:
1. The Plaintiff Makes the Opening Statement
Since you were the first to file a lawsuit, your Ohio car accident attorney will make the opening statement. This is a summary of what the case is about:
- When and how the accident happened
- The fact that you consider the defendant liable to pay for your damages
- The evidence you will present to support your case.
You won’t see any of the theatrics and drama usually seen in films. Your attorney will present the facts and findings calmly, focusing on the key aspects: your injuries and damages and the other party’s negligence.
2. The Defendant Who Filed the Counterclaim Makes Their Opening Statement
The other driver’s attorney will present their point of view next. Understandably, they will claim that you were more at fault. Thus, you should be liable to pay for their damages. Likewise, the defendant’s lawyer will list the evidence they will produce to support their claim.
3. The Plaintiff Presents Their Evidence
Once the opening statements are concluded, your Ohio car accident attorney will present all the available evidence:
- Police report
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Witness statements – in this case, the witnesses will take the stand and give their testimony verbally
- Reports issued by expert witnesses.
This is in line with the concept of the burden of proof required in personal injury cases. You have to prove that the other driver:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached their duty through negligence which caused the accident
- You suffered injuries as a direct result of the accident
- The injuries resulted in economic damages.
4. The Defendant Presents Evidence for Your Claim and for Their Counterclaim
If the other driver files a counterclaim, they will have to present two sets of evidence:
- One set to disprove the claims in your lawsuit
- One set to support their counterclaim.
This is why a case involving a counterclaim usually takes longer – if the legal procedure is followed through to the end.
The Good News Is That You Can Still Settle a Counterclaim
Your Ohio car accident attorney will not stop trying to end the procedure as soon as possible and with the best possible results. Thus, even if the other driver files a counterclaim, your attorney will reach out to their legal counsel with an offer to settle the matter out of court.
This means less time and money spent until the conclusion is reached. And, in many situations, this tactic is successful. A defendant may believe that filing a counterclaim is a good idea until they finally understand what it involves.
And, during the process of collecting evidence, their attorney may advise them that the chances of winning the counterclaim are slim. At that point, most defendants become reasonable and are ready to start negotiations again.
An Experienced Ohio Car Accident Attorney Will Protect Your Rights to the End
Many people are understandably worried if the other driver files a counterclaim. You start worrying: what if I lose the case? What if I have to pay for the other driver’s damages? If you are the victim of a car accident, you do not have to worry about these issues.
A skilled Ohio car accident attorney will diligently collect all relevant evidence proving your case. Once the judge and jury see and hear the documents and testimonies, they will realize that you have the right to collect compensation, not the other driver.
We encourage you to schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible after the accident, to give our lawyers time to prepare your case and win the maximum settlement you deserve. Call 844-853-7373 today!