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Beware The Counterclaim

In criminal courts, the line between the defendant and the prosecutor is pretty clear. The prosecutor, usually the State, accuses the defendant of committing a crime, and the defendant has to defend him or herself against the charges.

However, civil cases are held to determine fault, not guilt, and fault can wind up spreading to everyone involved. Even the State can wind up both the plaintiff and the defendant in a single court case. For instance, two drivers who aren’t paying attention to the road may collide in an intersection, injuring both. One may be dissatisfied with his or her insurance settlement and decide to go to court, but in response the insurer (or the actual defendant) may file a counterclaim which alleges that the first driver is the one who’s primarily to blame.

There are a number of different kinds of counterclaim which may appear, and so you may find it helpful to know which ones mean what:

Compulsory Counterclaim

This type of claim is directly related to the existing court case, so much so that a court would consider the matter settled if you tried to bring it up after the first case ends. Thus, you have to bring it up within a matter of days after being served with the original notice, and it has to be attached to the case in question. The example above with the quarreling drivers uses a compulsory counterclaim because both are accusing the other person of being at fault for a single accident.

Permissive Counterclaim

This refers to when two at least somewhat unrelated incidents are bundled together into a single court case because they both involve the same parties. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other, and a permissive counterclaim can be held as a separate court case, but if the judge allows it a permissive counterclaim can save the parties involved some money and time.


Some cases involve more than two parties, and sometimes the parties lined up along the defendant’s bench don’t all agree with each other. A cross-claim is what happens when two or more parties who are apparently on the same side choose to sue each other as well.

For instance, if a customer is suing a restaurant for serving food laced with salmonella, he or she may wind up suing the chef, the restaurant franchise, and the international corporation that licenses the franchise. The chef may have been the reason why uncooked meat or eggs got onto anyone’s plate, but it’s also the franchise’s fault for hiring the chef and the corporation’s fault for not inspecting the restaurant often enough to catch the problem.

With a cross-claim, the chef can accuse the franchise and the corporation of providing contaminated meat or other food for the restaurant. The chef would allege that he or she did everything correctly and took food safety seriously, but because of this contamination the customer got sick and damaged the chef’s reputation, making it harder for him or her to get appropriate work.

Another aspect of counterclaims is the fact that you will likely need two separate teams to handle each claim. If you live in Florida, if someone has recently initiated a court case against you, and if you believe that you also have a case against the plaintiff, then in addition to hiring a civil defense lawyer you should also call the law offices of , Goldman, Babboni, and Walsh. We can provide you with a free case review so you can find out if your counterclaim has merit, and we can assist you with potentially offsetting your losses or else with winning an overall positive settlement.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

Beware The Counterclaim

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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