Accepted Claim — A claim in which the insurance company accepts that your injury or illness will be covered by workers’ compensation or your personal injury claim.
Accidental Death Benefit — The death benefit paid a representative of the insured if the injury resulting from a car accident caused the wrongful death of the insured.
Action — In the legal sense, a formal complaint or a suit brought in court.
Additional Insured — A person other than the named insured or covered person who is protected under the named insured’s auto policy.
Additur — An increase by a judge of the amount of damages awarded by a jury.
Adjudicate (Adjudication) — Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree. Also the judgment given.
Admissible Evidence — Evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.
Affidavit — A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. For example, in civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used.
Agent — Person (i.e. insurance agent) authorized to represent an insurer and solicit insurance business. An insurance agent is tied to an insurance company.
Agreement — Mutual assent between two or more parties; normally leads to a contract; may be verbal or written.
Agreed Medical Evaluator (AME) — This is the physician that is agreed to by plaintiff’s attorney and a defendant insurance company usually used in a worker’s compensation claim.
Air Bag — An air bag is an automatic crash-protection system in motor vehicles. Air bags should inflate after certain impacts and create a protective cushion between the occupant and certain hard surfaces in the vehicle, depending on the location of the air bag and the occupant of which it is to protect.
American Bar Association (ABA) — A professional association of American lawyers. The ABA has no legal authority but plays an important role in defining legal policy, lobbying for the law profession, and evaluating federal judges. About a third of all lawyers belong to the ABA.
AOE/COE — (Arising Out of Employment/Occurring in the Course of Employment) Injury caused by or occuring while on the job.
Arbitration — The hearing and settlement of a dispute between opposing parties by a third party whose decision the parties have agreed to accept.
Asbestos Lawsuit — Asbestos has been shown to cause a form of cancer called mesothelioma and this has produced many lawsuits against manufacturers and users of asbestos. These are personal injury lawsuits, unless the plaintiff dies, in which case they usually become wrongful death lawsuits. They are complex lawsuits, often involving a large number of defendants and are usually handled by law firms which specialize in asbestos litigation.
Asbestos Lawyer — A specialist in asbestos litigation.
Assumption Of The Risk — A rule that states that a person who chooses to take a risk may accept some responsibility for any injury.
Attorney — A person who is licensed by a state or federal court to provide legal services.
Automobile Insurance — A form of insurance that protects against losses involving autos.
Basic Limits of Liability — The least amount of liability coverage that can be purchased to cover damages to another person’s automobile.
Beneficiary — Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. Sometimes the word “heir” is used.
Benefit Notice — A required letter or form sent to you by the insurance company to inform you of benefits you may be entitled to receive.
Best Evidence — The most direct evidence possible, such as producing an original document to prove that the document exists and what it states.
Bifurcation — Splitting a trial into two parts. a liability phase and a penalty phase. In some cases, a new jury may be assigned to deliberate for the penalty phase.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) — The amount of alcohol found in a person’s blood, the result of which will determine whether the person was under the influence of alcohol and/or legally intoxicated at the time he or she was driving.
Bodily Injury — In automobile insurance law, bodily injury refers to the damage sustained to a person’s body as a result of a car accident.
Brief — Written document, usually prepared by an attorney, submitted to the judge about a case, containing summaries of the facts of the case, relevant laws, and an argument showing how the laws support that party’s position.
Burden of Proof — Measure of proof required to prove a fact.
Bystander — A person who is present when an event takes place, often referred to as a witness.
Causation — The wrongful act which leads to a personal injury. See also “legal cause” and “proximate cause.”
Cause of Action — Fact or facts that give someone the right to seek a remedy through the court because the facts of the case apply to a certain law sought to be enforced.
Casualty — An accident that could not have been predicted or avoided, such as a ship sinking in a storm at sea. Also used to mean the injuries or loss of life in a car accident.
Civil Law — That part of the law which governs non-criminal cases. Civil law applies to areas such as business disputes, family disputes, negligence, accidents and personal injury.
Claim — A person’s demand for money made against an insurance company that is based upon the person’s assertion of a right to payment, such as from a car accident.
Claim Petition — In cases where a worker is injured on the job, the injured employee files a claim petition to seek compensation.
Class Action – A means by which one or more individuals are able to sue for themselves and as representatives of other similarly affected people.
Co-Defendant — If a lawsuit has more than one defendant (i.e. several parties are being sued in the lawsuit) then each defendant is called a co-defendant.
Collateral Source Rule — The rule ensures that compensation awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit should not be reduced if the plaintiff receives compensation for the same injury from another source, such as insurance.
Collision Insurance — This covers loss to the insured person’s own auto caused by its collision with another vehicle or object.
Comparative Negligence -- A method of assessing negligence used in California (as of July, 2009) in an accident case which considers all parties whose negligence contributed the accident in any way. Some states use a much higher standard to hold the wrong-doer responsible.
Compensation — Monetary compensation that makes up for a loss or injuries.
Compensatory Damages – Damages that cover actual injury or economic loss.
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.
Compromise And Release — In workers’ compensation cases, this occurs when a lump sum payment of money is paid by the insurance carrier to an injured worker to resolve the case, usually instead of future medical care.
Contingency Fee Agreement – An agreement between lawyer and client whereby the lawyer will only be paid if the client prevails in the lawsuit and collects damages. The lawyer then receives a percentage of the damages.
Contributory Negligence – In some states, carelessness on the plaintiff’s part which results in not being able to recover for any injuries or damages. California follows “comparative negligence,” which is defined above.
Corroborating Evidence – Evidence supplementary to that already given and tending to strengthen or confirm it.
Counterclaim – Claim brought by a defendant in a lawsuit against the plaintiff.
Court Trial – A trial with a judge but no jury.
Criminal Law – The body of law that applies to crimes where the defendant may be required to serve a prison term.
Cross Claim – Claim brought by a defendant in a lawsuit against another party who is alleged to be responsible in a lawsuit.
Damages – The sum of money awarded to the injured party in a personal injury lawsuit.
Death Benefits – Benefits paid to surviving dependents when an injury results in death.
Deductible – The amount an insured person must pay before their own insurance company pays the remainder of each covered loss, up to the policy limits.
Defendant – The person alleged to have caused the injury. The person being sued.
Defense Attorney – The attorney who represents the defendant.
Denied Claim – A claim in which the insurance company does not believe that your injury or illness was work related and therefore denies your claim.
Disability – A physical or mental impairment that limits everyday activities.
Deposition – Sworn testimony taken and recorded in an authorized place outside of the courtroom.
Diminished Value – The amount of money your car’s value loses after being in an accident, even if it was repaired, or other property.
Disfigurement – A medical term for a serious and permanent scar to the head, neck, or face.
Dismissal – The termination of a lawsuit.
Due Process Of Law – The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process.
Emotional Distress – An injury of psychological damage.
Employee – A person whose work activities are under the control of an individual or entity.
Employer – The person or entity whose has control over your work activities.
Evidence – All types of proof legally presented at a trial and allowed by the judge intended to convince the judge and/or jury of alleged facts relevant to the case.
Exemplary/Punitive Damages – Compensation greater than is necessary to pay a plaintiff for a loss, to punish or deter wrongful conduct.
Exhibit – Paper, document or other object received by the court as evidence during a trial or hearing.
Expert Witness – A qualified specialist in a subject who may present their opinion without having been a witness to the events of a lawsuit.
Felony – Serious crime usually punishment by imprisonment for more than one year or by death. A common personal injury example is “felony drunk driving,” when someone is injured due to someone convicted of drunk driving/dui.
Fine – A sum of money imposed upon a convicted person as punishment for a offense.
First Party Insurance – Insurance that applies to the insured’s own property or person.
Foreseeability — The reasonable anticipation that an injury may occur through the action or inaction of another party.
General Damages – Damages for which no exact amount can be calculated, such as for pain and suffering due to a personal injury.
Gross Negligence — Negligence for the safety or lives of others which is so great it appears to be intentional.
Hearing – Usually a legal proceeding before a judge.
Hearsay – Evidence based on what the witness has heard someone else say, rather than what the witness has personally experienced or observed.
Hit-and-Run – An automobile accident caused by someone who does not stop to assist or provide the required and necessary information.
Hold Harmless – Protection of another party for legal responsibility which is usually in writing.
Impeachment – When an opposing attorney catches you in a lie or discrepancy in your testimony.
Inadmissible Evidence – Evidence that should not be admitted, received or considered by a judge or jury.
Indemnify – Usually to reimburse someone other than yourself for someone else’s wrongful conduct.
Independent Medical Examination (IME) — Medical examination performed on an injured person by an insurance company doctor usually to medically evaluate an injured person. As personal injury attorneys, we call this a “DME,” or Defense Medical Examination, which is usually used for the purpose of showing that an injury no longer exists or that it has decreased in severity.
Informed Consent – Person’s agreement to allow something to happen, such as a medical procedure, that is based on full disclosure of the facts necessary to make an intelligent decision.
Injunction – Order by a court prohibiting a specific action from being carried out by a person or group.
Injure – Hurt or harm; violate the legal rights of another person.
Insurance – A contract where, for the payment of a certain amount of money (” premium”), one party agrees to compensate another for a loss or injury arising from contracted future events.
Insurance Company – A corporation or association that is in the business of making insurance contracts such as homeowner’s insurance or automobile insurance.
Insurer – The party that contractually agrees to compensate another for a loss or injury arising from a contracted future event such as a car accident
Interrogatories – Written questions submitted by one party’s attorney to the opposing party in a lawsuit.
Joint And Several Liability – Refers to a plaintiff’s ability to sue one or more defendants separately or all together at his or her option. Permits a group of defendants to be held both individually and collectively liable for all damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, in California personal injury cases as of July, 2009, this rule has been modified by a legal statute.
Judgment – The final decision by a court or jury in a lawsuit.
Lapse in Insurance 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 court action brought by one person, usually called the “plaintiff,” against another, the defendant, seeking compensation for some injury or enforcement of a right.
Liability – Legal responsibility to another when you are at fault. For example, the person who caused a car accident is “liable.”
Medical Benefits – Covered medical-related expenses payable under an insurance policy.
Medical Malpractice – A claim brought against a health-care professional based on professional negligence wherein the health-care professional violates the applicable standard of care and an injury results.
Mental Anguish – Mental suffering or emotional distress, often due to a personal injury.
Mesothelioma – A type of cancer believed to be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Minor Impact Soft Tissue Injuries (M.I.S.T.) — What the insurance industry considers minor car accident cases due to what they consider to be low impact car accidents.
Misdemeanor – A crime that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by a fine or jail time of less than one year.
Negligence – A very broad term. Usually, the failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in a similar situation to protect others against an unreasonable risk of harm. Also referred to as “carelessness.”
Occupational Disease – An illness resulting from long-term employment in a particular type of work, such as mesothelioma (a type of cancer) from asbestos exposure.
Out-Of-Court Settlement – An agreement reached between a plaintiff and a defendant to resolve a lawsuit privately and without a judge’s authorization or approval.
Partial Disability – In a workers’ compensation case or personal injury matter, this generally refers to any physical disability that is less than total. This usually results in loss of earnings.
Personal Auto Policy – The most common auto accident insurance policy sold today. This car accident policy can provide insurance coverage for liability, medical payments, uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, and physical damage protection.
Personal Injury – An injury to your body, state of mind or reputation.
Personal Injury Recovery – The amount of compensation paid as a result of a personal injury settlement or lawsuit.
Personal Property – All property except land and buildings.
Petition To Terminate, Modify Or Suspend Benefits — In a workers’ compensation claim, this is the petition filed by the employer/insurance carrier in an attempt to modify, suspend or terminate an injured employee’s compensation.
Physical Damage – Usually property damage to your automobile from a car accident.
Plaintiff – The injured party in a lawsuit.
Policy – The written documents of a contract for insurance between the insurance company and you.
Pre-Existing Condition – Medical problems or pre-existing injuries.
Primary Care Physician (PCP) — A physician that is employed by or contracts with a managed health care system like an HMO that coordinates all of the member’s medical care.
Product Liability — The responsibility for the design, manufacture and marketing of a product for damages caused by the product.
Punitive Damages — Money that is paid in addition to your actual damages when the responsible party acted with careless disregard (such as recklessness, malice or deceit).
Reasonable Care — The degree of care that a sensible or careful person would give under the same or similar circumstances.
Rear-End Auto Accident — An automobile which is hit by another car from behind.
Recovery — Generally, compensation as a result of a settlement or formal judgment.
Restitution – Compensation for the loss caused to another.
Ruling – A decision made by a judge.
Scope Of Employment – Reasonable employee job duty expectations.
Settlement — An agreement to resolve a dispute amongst multiple parties.
Social Host Liability — The legal responsibility of a person (the “social host”) who provides alcohol to someone, who then sustains injuries or causes injury to another person because of his intoxication.
Statute — A law.
Statute of Limitations — Law which specifies the time within which parties must take legal action to enforce their rights. Limitations vary so it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney.
Stipulation — Agreement by the attorneys or parties on opposing sides.
Strict Liability — Legal responsibility to another regardless of carelessness or intentions. A common example of this would be a dog owner’s responsibility for a dog bite injury.
Structured Settlement — An agreement where one party agrees to pay a monetary settlement over a period of time on a payment schedule as opposed to one lump sum payment. It is recommended not to enter into a structured settlement before careful examination of the party responsible for payment.
Subpoena — Command to appear at a certain place and time or to produce records or documentation.
Subrogation — An insurance company’s right to recover money it paid on your behalf.
Summary Judgment — A judge’s decision that resolves a matter of law based upon undisputed facts.
Supplier of Goods — In products liability, all parties involved in the supply of a product, which includes manufacturers, sellers, and dealers.
Supplemental Agreement — In a workers’ compensation, this is a form signed by the injured employee when there has been a change in his or her disability status.
Testimony — Evidence by a witness. This can be given at a deposition or trial.
Third Party Benefits — The amount of available coverage that the responsible party has in bodily injury and property damage.
Third Party — A party that can be partially or wholly responsible for an accident or injury..
Tort — A civil wrong committed against a person or property.
Total Disability — This is when an injured party is determined to be permanently impaired.
Total Loss — When property, usually a car, is determined to be too expensive to repair.
Trial -- The judicial examination and determination of issues between the parties to an action.
Umbrella Insurance Policy — A supplemental insurance policy that extends the basic limits of normal insurance liability.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage — Insurance that protects you in case another driver who does not have enough car accident insurance coverage. This will help pay for all losses and damages.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Insurance that protects you in case another driver who does not have any car accident insurance coverage.
Verdict — The legal decision in a case.
Vicarious Liability — When a person who did not actually cause an injury is held responsible for the injury. For example, an employer may be held responsible for its employee’s actions.
Witness — A person that was aware of an event and then states what happened.
Workers’ Compensation — Insurance required of all California employers to cover their employees’ losses due to a job-related injury.
Wrongful Death — When a death occurs as a result of negligence, such as due to a personal injury or car accident.
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