How Can You Possibly be Both a Plaintiff and a Defendant?
Legal lingo 101. In case you’re not sure, a plaintiff files a complaint against a defendant. These terms are used in civil law. When you sue someone because they caused an accident and you were injured, you are the plaintiff. Meanwhile, the person or business entity who harmed you is the defendant. So, how in the world is it possible for you to be both a plaintiff and a defendant?
For the purposes of illustration, think back to the dreadful day when you were hurt in the car crash. Truth be told, the driver of the other vehicle was also injured. You somewhat remember first responders removing him from the scene by ambulance.
You honestly wish no ill-will on the guy who was driving the pick-up. However, the traffic signal was green in your favor when you passed through the intersection. If he hadn’t run the red light, you’d both be okay.
The impact of the collision literally dazed you. Without exaggeration, you sense you’re lucky to be alive. After all, your injuries necessitated a hospital stay of almost a week. Your recovery will take some time. Your life now consists of regular physical therapy and doctors’ visits.
You figure you’ll wait until you feel a little better to meet with a car accident attorney. That said, a letter comes in the mail that puts an end to your procrastination. Apparently, that guy in the pick-up truck has a lawyer. As you read the mail, you’re truly fuming. Not only does the attorney’s letter say the crash was your fault – you’re being sued!
Plaintiff and Defendant in the Same Accident
As strange as it might sound, it is possible to file a lawsuit and defend one at the same time. Your version of the accident comes from your perspective. More than likely, the defendant feels the events happened far differently.
Consider our example. What happens if the owner of the pick-up swears that you were the one that sped through the light? In some respects, it becomes a matter of credibility. And, yes – it could seem a game of “he said, she said.”
An experienced personal injury attorney comes across these types of cases on a regular basis. When liability proves questionable, an investigation ensues. This involves seeking out witnesses, reviewing the police report, and visiting the accident scene.
Sometimes an accident reconstructionist needs to scientifically determine the root cause of the crash. This individual considers all the variables that led to an accident and provides expert opinion.
What if You Were Partially to Blame?
For now, let’s forget our exemplary accident. Let’s say something you did contributed to the crash. Could you still recover monetary damages?
Under New Jersey law, accident cases are viewed from a vantage point of comparative negligence. According to NJSA 2A:15-5.1, this means you can recover damages as long as your negligence is less than the other party. The money you receive will be apportioned according to your percentage of liability.
Who Represents You as a Defendant?
What happens with the lawsuit claiming you caused the accident? Your automobile insurance company will retain an attorney to represent you. Most frequently, the court will consolidate the two cases.
The insurance company lawyer and your personal injury attorney will coordinate their efforts. The object is to seek the best possible resolution on your behalf.
Injured in a car accident? With over three decades of personal injury experience, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone provides effective legal counsel. Give us a call to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you.