It is not uncommon in lawsuits for the plaintiff to implead multiple respondents. This is often the case where the plaintiff is unsure as to the identity of the respondent. To make sure that the responsible party is made liable, the plaintiff may resort to a dragnet approach and implead everyone whom he thinks is liable. This is not a prohibited method and the rules of court allow it. However, any plaintiff who resorts to such tactic opens himself to the danger of a counterclaim. A simple example is a car collision where multiple vehicles are involved. One plaintiff, uncertain who the real negligent party is, may name all the other drivers and owners involved in the crash. He can file a personal injury claim against all of them.
In a situation like this, the drivers and owners who were named as respondents in the case will be required to participate in the trial. If it turns out that they are not the negligent party, they can sue the plaintiff for false claims. The plaintiff must compensate them for the time, effort, and money wasted in defending their case. Moreover, if they are successful in proving that the act of the plaintiff in naming them as respondents was malicious or with bad faith, they can demand damages. This can prove extremely expensive and serves as a punishment for the plaintiff for unnecessarily inconveniencing the respondents. The law discourages unfounded suits and thus punishes parties who abuse the court procedures and harass innocent citizens.
There are two ways of claiming damages for false injury claims. The first method is to file a counterclaim in the same action. In this situation, the respondent will include in his answer that he is filing a claim against the plaintiff for the malicious lawsuit. This is an effective and speedy method because the counterclaim will be decided together with the original suit. Another way of filing a claim against a false personal injury claim is to file a separate civil action for damages. This action contemplates filing a new case, separate and distinct from the original suit. A separate civil suit can also result in the speedy disposition of the case. This is especially true when the original action is complicated, having the counterclaim included in that case may just delay its disposition.
Any plaintiff must be cautious in impleading persons in an action. This may well lead to civil liabilities. In extreme cases, the plaintiff may even be charged with slander or malicious prosecution. Thus, the plaintiff must be cautious and as much as possible name as respondent only the actual person.
Respondents on the other hand must be vigilant in protecting their rights. If respondent thinks that he was improperly impleaded in a case, he can resort to a counterclaim to demand damages. This can be made in the same action or in a separate suit. If the imputations are malicious, respondent can file slander charges against plaintiff. In any of the three instances, the respondent will be entitled to compensation for the financial and personal loss suffered.