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A Small Glossary of Legal and Insurance Terms

Below is a list of legal and insurance terms to help people navigate matters related to motor vehicle accidents.


1. Liability -

a. How much monetary coverage you have if you cause a collision (this is the amount your insurance company is liable for). Often limits will be stated on someones insurance policy by using two sets of numbers (25/50). The first number is the amount your company would be responsible to pay, at a maximum, to any single person who got hurt in the collision. The second number is the total amount the insurance company could be made to pay to all individuals, in total, who got hurt in the collision.

b. This word is also used to determine who is at fault.


2. Uninsured Motorist Coverage ("UM") - This coverage is available to someone who is injured in an accident, when the at fault party does not have insurance. (This type of coverage is available through a persons own insurance).


3. Underinsured Motorist Coverage ("UIM") - This coverage is available to someone who is injured in an accident, when the at fault party does not have high enough limits to cover the damages that he or she caused. (this type of coverage is available through a persons own insurance).


4. Medical Expense Benefits (Med-Pay) - This applies to policies in Virginia. This is an optional, but important coverage on your automobile policy which covers medical bills. This provision in your automobile policy pays medical bills in the event you get hurt in a collision. Using this coverage will not increase your premium and the insurance company cannot cancel your policy for providing these benefits.


5. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - Similar to Med-Pay in Virginia, but also covers wage loss.


6. Agent - The person who sells insurance policies. (this is not the person responsible for handling claims in the event of an accident).


7. Appraiser - This is the insurance company representative who estimates the repair cost of your damaged car.


8. Adjuster - This is the person who negotiates settlement's for the insurance company.


9. Claims Supervisor - This is an employee for the insurance company who generally has to approve the settlement amount.


10. Bodily Injury Claim - This is the claim you have for money for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and anything else that is not related to your vehicle.


11. Property Damage Claim - The claim you have for repair of your car, or payment of it if it is a total loss. This also covers your rental car reimbursement.


12. 1st party claim - This is a claim against your own insurance carrier.


13. 3rd party claim - This is a claim against another person's insurance carrier.


14. Specials - The total value of your medical bills and lost wages.


15. Claimant - The person who is claiming the benefits.


16. Plaintiff - The person who files a lawsuit.


17. Defendant - The person who is being sued by the Plaintiff.


18. Subrogation - An insurance company's right to be repaid once another responsible party pays you. (example: when your health insurance pays your medical bills from an accident, and then your medical bills are paid for by the at fault party that caused the accident. Your health insurance will sometimes require reimbursement of the funds that it paid on your behalf).


19. Tort - Acts or omissions that interfere with somebody's freedom to enjoy their personal or property rights, which leads to civil liability.


20. Negligence - The failure to use reasonable care.


21. Contributory Negligence - An allegation (defense) from the other party (defendant) that the person bringing suit (plaintiff) contributed to the accident. Typically in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, if a Plaintiff contributes to the cause of the accident, then she or he is barred from recovering at all. (Some exceptions apply)


22. Litigation - The process of filling a lawsuit and going to court.


23. Arbitration - A hearing which is held, generally less formal than a trial, where the parties have an independent person, called the arbitrator, decide the case after evidence is presented.


24. Mediation - A settlement tool similar to arbitration, but generally not involving testimony or evidence.


25. Statute of Limitations - The period of time within which legal action can be taken. If action is not taken within that time period, then a claim can no longer be brought. In motor vehicle accident matters in Virginia, a person typically has two years to bring a lawsuit for damages. In Maryland, a person typically has three years to bring a lawsuit for damages for a motor vehicle accident.


26. Subpoena - This is a court order requiring attendance. Typically it is issued to individuals to appear at depositions, and for witnesses to appear at trial.


If there are any other terms you may wish to know about or if you have any legal questions concerning a legal matter, do not hesitate to contact us for FREE.


By Rocco Turzi

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