Legal Terms Related to Truck and Car Accidents and Personal Injury Law

Action: Proceeding taken in a court of law. Synonymous with case, suit, lawsuit.

Additional Insured: A person other than the named insured or covered person who is also protected under or covered by the named insured’s liability policy.

Assigned Risk: A risk not ordinarily acceptable to insurers which is, according to state law, assigned to insurers participating in a plan in which the insurers agree to accept their share of these risks.

Auto wreck – An auto wreck is an accident involving an automobile. This may occur between more than one vehicle, or between a vehicle and pedestrian, or a vehicle and another object.

Automobile Insurance: A form of insurance that protects against losses involving autos. Examples of coverage types include: bodily injury liability, property damage liability, medical payments, and collision and comprehensive coverage for physical damage to the insured’s vehicle.

Basic Limits of Liability: The least amount of liability coverage that can be purchased.  In determining rates, an insurance carrier will use the basic limits to develop the base rates.  If an insured person wants higher limits, the carrier applies an increased limits factor to the base rate in calculating the new premium for the increased coverage.

Bodily Injury Liability: Legal liability for causing physical injury or death to another.

Burden of Proof: Measure of proof required to prove a fact.  Obligation of a party to probe facts at issue in the trial of a case.

Car accident advice; Recommendations or guidance on what to do in the event of an automobile accident.

Car accident attorney; A car accident attorney is a lawyer and legal expert who advocates on behalf of people involved in car accidents.

Car accident claim; A car accident claim is a formal filing with an insurance company requesting payment or compensation for damages incurred as a result of an auto accident that is normally sent via certified mail.

Car accident deaths; Car accident deaths are those deaths directly caused by or resulting from injuries sustained in automobile accidents.

Car accident injury; A car accident injury is an injury sustained in a car, truck or other motor vehicle accident, and may range from mild to severe.

Car accident laws; Car accident laws are state or federal regulations that pertain to car accidents.  They can also be laws related to issues of compensation.

Car accident lawsuit; A car accident lawsuit is a formal course of legal action taken by accident victims seeking damages against another party for an accident claim.

Car accident lawyer; A car accident lawyer is an attorney and legal expert who provides representation for people injured or involved in car accidents.

Car accident settlements; Car accident settlements are financial sums provided to injured accident victims, often negotiated by a personal injury attorney on behalf of their clients.

Case: Any proceeding, action, cause, lawsuit or controversy initiated through the court system by filing a complaint or petition.

Cause of Action: A legal claim.

Civil Law: All law that is not criminal law. Usually pertains to the settlement of disputes between individuals, organizations or groups and having to do with the establishment, recovery or redress of private and civil rights.

Collision Insurance: This covers loss to the insured person’s own auto caused by its collision with another vehicle or object.

Comparative Negligence: Negligence of a plaintiff in a civil suit which decreases his recovery by his percentage of negligence compared to a defendant’s negligence.

Costs: An allowance for expenses in prosecuting or defending a suit. Ordinarily it does not include attorney’s fees. Examples of costs are deposition fees, filing fees, and service of process fees.

Comprehensive Coverage: Covers damage to a vehicle caused by an event other than a collision or overturn.  Examples include fire, theft, vandalism, and falling objects.

Damages: Compensation recovered by a person who has suffered loss, detriment or injury to his/her person, property or rights, through the unlawful act or negligence of another. In can be awarded in court or obtained in an out-of-court settlement.

Deductible: The amount an insured person must pay before the insurance company pays the remainder of each covered loss, up to the policy limits.

Defendant: In a civil case, such as in a car accident lawsuit, the defendant is the person against whom a civil action is brought.

Evidence: Any form of proof legally presented at a trial through witnesses, records, documents, etc.

Expert Evidence: Testimony given by those qualified to speak with authority regarding scientific, technical or professional matters.

Hit and Run: An accident caused by someone who does not stop to assist or provide the required and necessary information to parties involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Injure: Hurt or harm caused by the violation of the legal rights of another person.

Lapse in Coverage/Policy Lapse: A point in time when a policy has been canceled or terminated for failure to pay the premium, or when the policy contract is void for other reasons.

Lawsuit: A civil action; a court proceeding to enforce a right (rather than to convict a criminal).

Lawyer: A person licensed to practice law; other words for “lawyer” include: attorney, counsel, solicitor and barrister.

Litigant: One who is engaged in a lawsuit.

Litigation: A law suit.

Mediation: A meeting between parties of a lawsuit, their counsel and a mediator to attempt a resolution of the dispute without trial.

Negligence: The absence of ordinary care.

Personal Auto Policy: The most common auto insurance policy sold today.  Sometimes referred to as “PAP,” this policy provides coverage for liability, medical payments, uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, and physical damage protection.

Personal Injury Protection: Personal Injury Protection (PIP) usually includes benefits for medical expenses, loss of income from work, essential services, accidental death, funeral expenses, and survivor benefits.  It usually pays benefits regardless of fault.

Petition: Formal written application to a court usually requesting damages available under law.

Petitioner: The party who begins an action; the party who complains or sues in an action and is named as such in the court’s records.  Also called a plaintiff.

Physical Damage: Damage to your vehicle from perils including (but not limited to) collision or upset with another vehicle object, fire, vandalism and theft.

Plaintiff: The party who begins an action; the party who complains or sues in an action and is named as such in the court’s records.  Also called a petitioner.

Policy: The written documents of a contract for insurance between the insurance company and the insured.  Such documents include forms, endorsements, riders and attachments.

Preponderance of Evidence: The general standard of proof in civil cases. The weight of evidence presented by one side is more convincing than the evidence presented by the opposing side.

Restitution: Act of giving the equivalent (almost always money) for any loss, damage of injury.

Settlement: In the case of a car accident or truck accident, a sum of money paid to conclude a claim.

Statute: A law created by a Legislature.

Statute of Limitations: Law which specifies the time within which parties must take judicial action to enforce their rights.

Suit: Any court proceeding in which an individual seeks a decision.

Trial: The presentation of evidence in court for the purposes of having a case decided.

Tort: A private wrong or harm committed against another, resulting in legal liability.  A tort is usually either intentional or accidental.  Automobile liability insurance is purchased to protect one from suits arising from unintentional torts.

Tortfeasor: One who commits a tort.

Verdict: Formal decision made by a judge or jury (trier of facts).

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