Cross Complaints and Third Party Claims
There are a number of different complaints that can be made in injury cases in the District of Columbia. Two of these types of complaints that act as a method of distributing responsibility across multiple parties include cross-complaints and third party claims.
A cross complaint, or cross-claim, is a claim among the same parties. If a plaintiff has filed a claim against multiple defendants, the defendants may file cross-claims against each other seeking indemnification and/or contribution of damages.
The cross-claim is initiated by whichever party decides to bring it. Typically, a cross-claim is initiated by a defendant against another defendant, and the cross-claim will be answered by the cross-defendant.
A cross-claim can be used in any number of personal injury situations, and can be either very useful or not useful at all, depending on the facts and circumstances of the incident. These are typically claims made among defendants for indemnification or contribution of potential damages that may be owed to the plaintiff.
Cross-claims are common in situations where multiple defendants are being sued. If, for example, there is a chain reaction collision, then the plaintiff will likely initiate a complaint against all of the offending vehicles to the rear of the front car, meaning there may be two or three defendants named in the complaint. In that situation, one of the defendants may believe that he or she is not responsible for the impacts that caused the injury. Therefore, a defendant may file a cross-claim against other named defendants, in that situation.
Third Party Complaint
A third party complaint can be filed by a defendant in the personal injury case. The injured party who brings the claim, or the plaintiff, is typically not a third party plaintiff. A third party complaint is brought by a defendant who believes that come party who has not been named to the lawsuit is ultimately responsible for the claims of the plaintiff. Therefore, a plaintiff might sue an apartment complex, because he or she may have tripped, fallen, and been injured due to the negligence of the apartment complex for failing to maintain its property to an acceptably safe standard.
The apartment complex may initiate a third party complaint against some other person, be it a landscaper, a plumber, or some other contractor who may have been doing work in the area that failed to repair that area to the condition in which it was prior to their arrival. So there are certain circumstances where a third party complaint may occur. However, a plaintiff or injured person does not bring a third party complaint.
Process for Filing a Third Party Complaint
The third party complaint involves much the same process as the initial complaint, in that it is drafted and filed, before the clerk issues the summons. That summons will be served upon the third party defendant and then the third party defendant must answer the complaint, and/or a default may be entered against it.
Filing a Lawsuit
People should understand that once a lawsuit is filed then the claim begins in a much more formal process. Many people will feel as though they have been through this information before or have answered the same questions before. However, once those questions are being answered within the context of the lawsuit, the answers have to be much more specific and are typically provided under oath. Therefore, the information is much more important and specific than during the initial claim process.
People should understand that once a lawsuit is filed, then the claim begins in a much more formal process. Many people will feel as though they have been through this information before or have answered the same questions before. However, once those questions are being answered within the context of the lawsuit, the answers have to be much more specific and are typically provided under oath. Therefore, the information that is exposed and discussed in a lawsuit is much more important and specific than during the initial claim process.