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Accident & Injury Law Glossary Of Terms

At Litman and Litman PC we take care of our clients as if they were part of our family. Even though we handle all the critical elements of your case, it can be helpful to know some of the legal terms that will be used in the paperwork and at trial. Abstract of Title: The chronologically ordered summary of all official records and recorded documents affecting the title to a piece of the real property.

Abstract of Title: A chronological summary of all official records and recorded documents affecting the title to a portion of real property.
Accident Report: A detailed, formal account of an event documented from the scene of the incident by an authority figure.
Act of God: Natural causes, neither human interaction or intervention, resulting in an accident or event - including damage from storms, floods, earthquakes and lightning.
Actual Cash Value: Also known as market value, it is the cost your vehicle could be sold just before it was destroyed or damaged in the car accident. Insurance companies typically pay the owner actual cash value if the vehicle is deemed a total loss....
Additional Insured: This is an individual other than the protected individual as named in the automobile insurance policy.
Adjudicate: To resolve a legal case.
Affidavit: A written declaration under oath.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: Methods, including mediation and arbitration, instead of  litigation to resolve a legal dispute.
Answer: A formal written legal response complaint filed by a defendant.
Appeal: To petition a higher court to evaluate the decision of a trial court with the hope that it be  overturned.
Arbitration: A legal dispute between a plaintiff and defendant that is heard and settled by a neutral third-party. 
Attorney-Client Privilege: A law that ensures communication between an attorney and his or her client may not be disclosed; it remains private.
Automobile Insurance: This insurance protects the owner against losses to his or her vehicle. Types of coverage include medical payments, bodily injury, property damage, and collision and comprehensive physical vehicle damage. 
Bad-faith Claim: An assertion brought against an individual’s insurance provider for refusing to pay or unreasonably delaying or denying their claim without cause.
Benefit: For legal purposes related to personal injury law, benefits are financial assistance that an individual receives from an employer, insurance company, or social program (such as social security) in a time of sickness, disability, or unemployment. 
Bodily Injury:  Damage caused by an accident and including cuts, burns, bruises, broken bones, and more to an individual’s body.
Burden of Proof: This term refers to the plaintiff, also known as the individual who initiates the claim or lawsuit, who must prove what occurred in the case. In a car accident she or he has the burden of proof that the other party involved caused the accident.
Case: Any acton, cause, lawsuit, proceeding or controversy initiated through the court system by filing a petition, indictment or complaint.
Cause of Action: Synonymous with a legal claim.
Causation: The act or process of causing something.
Claim: A civil action referring to the physical or mental harm suffered by the plaintiff, or on behalf of the injured victim, due to the defendant’s negligence.
Claim Adjuster: An insurance company employee who serves as a liaison between the insured and the insurance company who investigates and oversees the claim on behalf of the insurance company.
Compensable Injury: An injury caused by an accident at an individual’s workplace while working.
Complaint: An official document that initiates a lawsuit and includes the wrongdoing asserted by plaintiff against defendant.
Contingency Fee: Monetary compensation of a lawyer if the case is won.
Claim: An assertion of a right to property or money.
Comparative/Contributory Negligence: When more than one party is at fault in an accident, fault will be determined by an insurance company or the court. The total damages will be decreased by the percentage of plaintiff’s negligence compared to that of the defendant’s negligence.
Damages: Monetary, physical, and mental costs caused by the unlawful act or negligence of another party and include income, emotional distress, pain and suffering, medical treatment, and property loss.
Deductible: The amount an insured individual required to pay before the insurance company will pay the remainder of each covered loss, up to the limits of the policy.
Defendant: In civil cases, a defendant is the individual a civil action is brought against.
Demand Letter: A formal letter, often threatening legal action, sent to the opposing party with a request for action.
Deposition: An out-of-court question and answer session under oath.
Disclosure: Providing documents and other information requested by the opposing party.
Discovery: The legal process by which opposing parties obtain evidence from one another and  typically includes interviews, depositions, requests for documents and records, and more.
Duty of Care: A requirement that an individual behaves toward others and the public with the caution and attention of any reasonable individual in similar circumstances.
Expert Witness: Testimony given by an individual qualified to speak with authority about professional, technical or scientific matters.
Evidence: During trial, the legally presented proof including documents, records, witnesses, photos, and more.
Fault: An intentional or negligent failure that causes injury to another person. 
Good Faith: Taking an action without intent to defraud someone.
Hazard: Conditions that increase the probability of damage or injury.
Hearing: An in-court proceeding before a judge that typically allows the public to attend.
Hit and Run: When an individual causes an accident but does not stop to help or cooperate by sharing information.
Injure: To violate the legal rights of an individual by causing harm. 
Insurance: A contractual relationship that exists between the insurer, for a recurring fee known as a premium, agrees to reimburse the insured, for damage or injury caused by certain hazards or dangers. 
Insurer: The company or entity who provides coverage through an insurance policy.
Insured: The individual protected under an insurance policy.
Judgment: The ultimate determination by a court of the rights and claims of the parties in an action.
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.
Liability: Liability in a car accident determines who is at fault and responsible for damages to others. Assessment criteria includes vehicle damage, evidence at the scene, witness statements, and police reports.  
Legal Malpractice: A situation when an attorney breaches their legal duty.
Liability: The legal responsibility for one’s omissions or acts or omissions. There is an obligation that an individual is legally bound to perform and often involves the payment of monetary damages.
Litigant: An individual who is engaged in a lawsuit and may refer to a defendant or plaintiff.
Litigation: The process of taking a legal action which may include filing a lawsuit.
Loss: The monetary value assigned to an injury or damage in an individual injury claim and including future medical care, current medical bills, pain and suffering, past and future income,  and more.
Loss of earnings: When an injured individual must take time from work, change work, or give up work due to their injury and causing decreased or no income.
Malpractice: Misconduct or negligence by a professional, including doctors, lawyers, accountants, who failed to meet a standard of conduct or care.
Mediation: Outside involvement by a neutral third-party in settling a dispute.
Medical Malpractice: Negligence by a professional healthcare provider, including hospitals and doctors falling short from the applicable standard of care, and by act or omission causes injury to a patient.
Motion: A formal request for a judge to rule or take action.
Negligence: A driver is negligent when he or she unintentionally breaches the duty of care and fails to operate a vehicle safely.
Negotiation: To arrange or settle by discussion and mutual agreement.
Out-of-Court Settlement: An agreement reached between a defendant and plaintiff that does not require the approval of a judge or court.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Money spent out of the injured party’s own funds on costs related to their injuries, which may include: travel, medications, assistive devices, etc. 
Parties: Individuals, organizations, or corporations who initiated a lawsuit or who are defendants.
Personal Auto Policy: Auto insurance policy referred to as PAP and providing coverage for physical damage protection, liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payments. 
Physical Damage: Collision, crash, fire, theft, vandalism, or other objects that damage a vehicle.
Plaintiff: The party who initiates an action, sues or complains is named a plaintiff or petitioner by the court.
Policy: The written documents of an insurance contract between the insurance company and the insured individual. Documents may be attachments, riders, forms, and endorsements.
Pecuniary Damages: A term that refers to the loss of past and future income.
Plaintiff: An individual in a court or legal case that is suing, typically due to injury.
Pleading: Any formal statement, document, or request filed with the court in which an individual involved in the legal case responds to claims, allegations, denials, or defenses.
Precedent: When a previously decided case is cited as the authority and basis for determining future cases.
Premise Liability: The legal parameters that hold tenants and property owners responsible when an individual is hurt due to a dangerous condition on their premises.
Proceeding: Any court appearance or hearing related to a legal case.
Product Liability: The accountability of a business, merchant, or manufacturer for property damage or bodily injury caused by a defect in their product.
Prognosis: The prediction of an individual’s recovery from an injury as determined by a doctor.
Quality of Life: The level of existence of an individual either before or after an accident or injury.
Quid Pro Quo: Latin for “this for that” and refers to the exchange of something by both parties establishing a contract.
Rehabilitation: The process of reestablishing required skills and normal movement for self-sufficiency after an injury.
Request: A request or petition by an individual for something to be accomplished or granted.
Settlement: A monetary payment in a car accident is known as a settlement. It is used to resolve claims of individual injury and vehicular damage. Legal rights are forfeited by signing a settlement release, so a future lawsuit would not be allowed.
Sexual Assault: Any sexual behavior or contact occurring without the explicit consent of the recipient.
Slip-and-Fall: A personal injury case in which an individual slips or falls on someone else’s property who is then legally responsible.
Standard of Care: This is the level of medical services and assistance practiced by the average, qualified, reasonable provider.
Statute of Limitations: A law determining the time allowed for someone to file legal action, typically beginning when the injury or damage occurs.
Subpoena: A court-issued command to appear at a certain time and place to provide testimony.
Subrogation: A legal act allowing one party to make a payment on behalf of another party, and to collect that money later from the party who owed the money.
Third-Party Claim: A liability claim brought by an injured/harmed individual against another party’s insurance company.
Tort: A civil or private wrong, not deemed a crime, leading to legal liability. Most common type is personal injury law.
Total Loss: A vehicle is considered a total loss if it is damaged beyond repair or the costs to repair surpasses the vehicles value. 
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM): This is coverage for individuals who have been hit by a driver who does not have insurance or inadequate insurance to cover damages caused by the car accident.
Verdict: A final outcome of a case made by a judge or jury.
Voir Dire: Also referred to as jury selection with attorneys examining prospective jurors.
Witness: An individual who testifies under oath before a court, with regard to what he or she observed, heard or saw.
Workers’ Compensation: In cases of job-related injury and death resulting from a workplace accident or illness, state-required no-fault benefits are provided by an employer to an employee or the family thereof.
Wrongful Death: A claim made on behalf of the beneficiaries or survivors of an individual who has died as a result of wrongful conduct, both intentional or negligent.