When you go to court over a personal injury, the expected outcome is that one side will win and one side will lose the case. But this isn't the only option. In fact, both parties can win and both parties can lose. How? Here are two scenarios you may face and what they mean for both sides.
1. A Claim and Counterclaim
A counterclaim is a secondary lawsuit wrapped up within the original one. The facts of the counterclaim must be substantially related to the original case because both will be argued within one trial.
How does this look in court? In general, the original plaintiff presents their case first. The defendant in the main case then presents their argument. In this argument, they will present their counterclaim case. The original plaintiff has the chance to respond to what comes up, and then both parties make closing arguments. The jury will deliberate on both cases and both sets of damages.
Because the burden of proof is on the one suing in both cases (the original claim and the counterclaim), it is not an either/or situation. Neither party may have made their case convincingly enough to warrant a win. On the other hand, the jury may find that both sides have some liability and award some damages to both.
2. Nominal Damages
The jury is generally free to award as much or as little in damages as they feel is appropriate given their verdict. This may be the amount sought by the plaintiff, but it can also be either a lot more or a lot less. Nominal damages occur when a jury awards an obviously minimal amount such as $1, $100, or something similar.
What do nominal damages mean? In essence, they indicate that the plaintiff has proven that the defendant was liable for the accident — but the jury isn't convinced that financial loss occurred or that it was strictly due to the accident. So the plaintiff may win their case but they may not get the damages they were hoping for.
This is also both a win and a loss for the defendant. While they did technically lose their case, the lack of financial repercussions can be just as big of a win.
Where to Learn More
Personal injury law can be complicated, as these examples demonstrate. The best way to ensure that you win your case and don't experience any unexpected losses is to work with a qualified personal injury lawyer. Make an appointment with a local personal injury lawyer today to learn more.