While most lawsuits in the personal injury sector are filed by victims who are legitimately hurt and need additional legal support, some litigants file pointless or frivolous lawsuits in “bad faith.” It is important to have a legal definition and distinguish what may be considered a frivolous lawsuit and a lawsuit filed by an injured victim in real need of support.

Can You Counter Sue For A Frivolous Lawsuit?

Yes, you can counter-sue for a frivolous lawsuit. In legal terms, this is known as a “counterclaim” or “counter-assertion.” If the original lawsuit is deemed frivolous and lacks legal merit, the defendant may seek damages or other remedies through a counterclaim, asserting that the plaintiff’s initial legal action was without proper legal basis, causing harm or damages to the defendant.

However, the success of a counterclaim depends on establishing the frivolous nature of the initial lawsuit and demonstrating the resulting harm or damages suffered by the defendant.

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What Is a Frivolous Lawsuit?

There’s no one legal definition for a frivolous lawsuit. What’s considered frivolous is open to interpretation by victims, lawyers, and the court system. The wide range of definitions, even in the legal community, makes it difficult to prove that a litigant is wrongfully suing or filing frivolously.

When considering if a lawsuit is frivolous or not, the court must determine if a claim is clearly meant to torment, hinder, or embarrass the defendant. Plaintiffs may not believe their frivolous lawsuit will succeed but will file it regardless, wrongfully suing simply to create a headache for someone else.

A  frivolous lawsuit, motion, or appeal must try to deny, contest, or prove a point of contention. Frivolous lawsuits usually have no point. When a frivolous lawsuit is shown to be baseless, a judge can opt to dismiss the frivolous litigation.

The Penalties for a Frivolous Lawsuit

If a court feels a case is a frivolous lawsuit, they can dismiss such lawsuits. However, the ramifications for the person seeking to sue someone may not end there. The judge can order the litigant to pay a civil fine or the defendant’s attorney fees and other costs incurred by the prevailing party while preparing for a frivolous lawsuit. The person being sued in a frivolous lawsuit may also counter sue for these costs.

Generally, someone concerned over if their claim is frivolous or not shouldn’t worry. If you earnestly believe someone’s negligence caused you harm, there should be no question about the validity of your case. A judge and jury may eventually disagree with you, but that doesn’t mean your lawsuit was groundless.

The very best personal injury lawyer should be up to date with the existing California laws such as AB 2115 and the intricacies of car accident cases. An experienced personal injury lawyer will also have long case history to draw from and will often sense when a frivolous claim has an elevated chance of being viewed as a frivolous lawsuit by a judge. He or she will alert you to the risks of moving forward with frivolous litigation. It’s unlikely that a good personal injury lawyer would waste his or her time and resources or yours on a questionable case.

Why Lawyers Avoid Frivolous Cases

One misconception is that lawyers have flooded the court system with frivolous lawsuits in order to pad their profits and gain notoriety. In fact, for a legal professional with a good reputation, filing a frivolous lawsuit can be extremely harmful.

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If frivolous lawsuits are deemed a “bad faith” case and thrown out by the court, a personal injury attorney endures several undesirable consequences with such lawsuits:

  • Loss of money and time spent on a case. Lawyers on personal injury cases usually don’t get paid unless they win compensation for their clients. Their pay comes out of any compensation won for the prevailing party. The client doesn’t pay anything until then. Work put in by attorneys and their staff to prepare for a case, the legal proceedings, coverage of court fees, the hiring of expert witnesses, and other legal representation expenses all fall on the attorney. If a case is dismissed, all of those costs go down as losses.
  • A judge can reprimand a lawyer who brings a frivolous lawsuit forward. The court may order the lawyer to reimburse the defendant’s losses, including costs and their own attorney fees. These are just more financial penalties the lawyer must absorb in most frivolous lawsuits.
  • A lawyer’s reputation is damaged. When a lawyer ends up associated with too many frivolous lawsuits and legal proceedings, their standing is affected within the legal community. One damaging case can affect an attorney’s ability to attract more clients. With frivolous lawsuits, attorneys risk losing their standing in legal circles and tarnishing their law firm’s image.

How Courts Handle Frivolous Cases

Judges aren’t quick to toss out cases in the legal system because they believe they are frivolous. They are careful not to infringe on anyone’s rights to file a frivolous suit even if a plaintiff is misguided in their views. The court system never wants to take action that might frighten others away from filing their own claims.

However, the courts must also consider if the person or entity being sued will suffer humiliation and a damaged reputation from a highly questionable or frivolous suit, even if found innocent or ending up as the prevailing party. Often this degradation is the only true goal of someone filing a frivolous claim.

Judges typically throw out only those cases in the legal system that clearly demonstrate a grudge against another person or party. A dismissed case can also clearly be based on false conclusions or an illogical argument. The courts also want to discourage unscrupulous lawyers who may take advantage of clients by giving them false hope of a legal victory.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Los Angeles and Southern California

If you are injured but fear a case filed against the at-fault party would be seen as frivolous, bring your question to a professional of the legal system.

Contact the Law Offices of Steers & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation of your case. There’s no risk to you and you’ll instantly have an expert appraisal of your case for legal representation. Insurance companies may tell you your injury is worth very little or nothing at all, but let us help you determine the true value of what you’ve endured and what lies ahead.