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Auto Accident Injury & Personal Injury Glossary of Terms

Accident Report    An official report, usually generated by a police officer who arrives at an accident scene. The report contains names and addresses of parties and witnesses and details about how and where and when an accident occurred.

Adjustor    Employees of insurance companies who settle insurance claims for as little as possible.

Arbitration    An alternative to trial; an attorney or retired judge conducts a simplified legal proceeding, hears evidence, and rules on the merits of the claim. May be binding or non-binding.

Attorney      A person who is licensed to practice law.

Attorney-Client Privilege    All communications between an attorney and his/her client remains secret and confidential.

Claimant    The person injured as a result of the negligence of one or more persons.

Complaint    The legal document filed with the court that formally commences a lawsuit.

Contingency Fee    A percentage fee that is paid to a lawyer only if his/her client receives compensation from a lawsuit or claim.

Coverage, Bodily Injury    A form of insurance that covers persons who sustain physical injuries in an accident.

Damages     The sum of money a plaintiff has lost due to his/her injuries.

Defendant     The party being sued in a lawsuit.

Deposition    A form of discovery that allows lawyers to question witnesses under oath, prior to trial.

Discovery    A formal process of exchanging information with the other parties in a lawsuit.

IME    An Independent Medical Exam is when the insurance company's chosen doctor performs a physical examination of the plaintiff.

Interrogatories    A form of discovery; a formal set of questions sent by one party to another party in a lawsuit, which are required to be answered in a given time frame and under oath.

Investigator    A person who collects evidence to be used in a claim or legal proceeding.

Lawsuit    A formal legal action made by one party against another where recovery is sought for damages.

Liability    The legal conclusion that someone is formally responsible for injuries suffered by another.

Loss of Consortium    When a person is injured, the person's spouse may also have a claim for loss of consortium. The claim is based on the strain the injuries have caused on the marriage, and the change of marital duties in the household.

Mediation    An alternative to trial; a form of alternative dispute resolution in which a mediator acts as a neutral referee and  attempts to settle a legal matter.

Medical Malpractice    A person who is injured due to the negligence of a physician, hospital, or other health care provider.

Negligence    Acts or omissions that damage another party.

Paralegal    A trained assistant to a lawyer.

Plaintiff    The party who commences the lawsuit and seeks damages.

Process Server    A person who hand delivers legal documents.

Property Damage        Damage to a vehicle or other personal or real property.

Settlement    The resolution of a claim or lawsuit. A settlement can occur at any time during a claim, including the middle of a trial.

Settlement Demand    The amount of money the plaintiff's attorney asks for to settle the claim or lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations    The amount of time a claimant has to commence a lawsuit from the date of accident.

Treating Physician    A doctor who has actually provided medical treatment to an injured person.

Trial    An official court proceeding.

Witnesses    An eyewitness is someone who saw something that is important to a claim. An Expert Witness is someone who has extensive knowledge and experience in a particular field and is entitled to provide evidence in the form of "expert opinions" regarding the facts of a case.

Uninsured Motorist    Someone who does not carry liability insurance. If they hit you, you may file an Uninsured Motorist Claim against your own insurance company for your injuries and damages.

Underinsured Motorist    Someone who has liability insurance but not enough to compensate you for your injuries and damages. An Underinsured Motorist Claim allows you to seek from your insurance company the difference between the amount of liability insurance carried by the negligent party and the agreed or adjudicated value of your claim.