Personal Injury Glossary for New Jersey Accidents
At the Todd J. Leonard Law Firm, it is one of our top priorities to keep you informed throughout your personal injury case, while providing you with valuable resources to make the process as smooth as possible for you and your loved ones. Take a look at our glossary of terms below for further clarification on personal injury terminology:
Arbitration: Rather than going to trial, arbitration may be a viable option for some personal injury cases. An arbitrator, usually a retired judge or attorney, will oversee the proceeding rather than a judge. Arbitrators have the authority to give the plaintiff an “arbitration award” and make final decisions regarding the case. However, they must not have any direct involvement in the case itself. In personal injury cases in New Jersey, the Courts mandate that all personal injury cases must undergo arbitration. In addition, in the case of an uninsured or underinsured motorist, most insurance policies require three lawyers arbitrate the cases. Arbitration can be extremely helpful in evaluating cases and getting compensation for personal injury clients.
Attorney-Client Privilege: Clients do not need to be afraid of sharing the details of their case with their lawyer because there is built-in protection for communications with your attorney. The information the client shares with their lawyer is confidential.
Cause of Action: A set of facts justifying a claim against another person when suing for property or monetary damages. A cause of action can include such cases as auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, sexual assaults, wrongful death, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress among others.
Claim: Any case or dispute brought stating another person or entity is accountable and demanding compensation is paid to our client.
Damages: Monetary compensation awarded to the person who sustained personal injuries. The claim can include lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, future medical procedures or lost wages, and property damaged as the result of a negligent action or accident.
Date of Loss: The day the incident of personal injury or accident occurred. This date is important to determine because it begins the period for the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.
Defendant: The person or entity in a personal injury case who is responsible for the accident.
Demand Letter: In order to present your claim to an insurance company, our New Jersey accident lawyers will submit a detailed letter outlining our theory of liability and all the damages sustained by our client together with other supporting documents. We will also make a settlement demand so our clients receive the compensation they deserve.
Deposition: This is an important part of the litigation or discovery process. The sworn testimony of witnesses or parties in your case can be used in a court of law at a later date, including at the time of trial. Depositions are an opportunity for lawyers to examine a witness with a court-reported transcription of the testimony. Many times, the deposition transcript helps to impeach the credibility of the witness at the time of trial.
Discovery: Pursuant to the New Jersey Rules of Civil Procedure, each party is allowed to seek out evidence from the other party in the form of documentation, expert reports, depositions, admissions, questions, and answers from interrogatories during the litigation phase of your case.
General Damages: Pain and suffering is an example of this type of damage. There is not a specific dollar amount for this element of damages.
Interrogatories: Written questions asked from one party to another in a personal injury case. Interrogatories are essentially a set of requests for further information regarding the specifics of the accident, amount of medical bills, names of witnesses, and other pertinent facts. These can be asked of the defendant by the plaintiff or vice versa. These answers are a very important part of your case and either party may use the answers to impeach the credibility of the other party.
Liable/Liability: Revealing the other party is guilty and responsible for any damage caused. It is the goal of a personal injury lawyer to place liability fully on the other person and get them to pay restitution for your losses.
Lost Wages: Any lost income from the moment of the accident until the present. Additionally, any money that will be lost in the future because the injured person has to find a new job or spend time rehabilitating will be taken into account.
Med-Pay: This is the portion of your auto insurance that can help pay some of your medical bills and injuries. You have this coverage no matter who is to blame for the accident. Also, for premises liability cases, such as a fall down accident, many homeowners and commercial property owners have liability insurance coverage, which provides for the payment of your medical bills regardless of fault. These payments can reach the amount of insurance designated on the insurance policy. For most liability insurance policies, it is $5,000.
Mediation: Mediation is a process in which the parties agree to select an individual, usually a retired judge, to help the parties resolve the case without the costs and uncertainty of a trial. Most mediation is non-binding, meaning if either party is dissatisfied with the recommendation of the mediator, the case can proceed to trial.
Medical Records: Medical professionals should keep track of any and all treatments, surgeries, and medications you receive while under their care. These records must go under review to analyze the nature and extent of your personal injuries and physical limitations.
Medical Specials: This is the total amount of money you are claiming for medical expenses.
Negligence: Harm towards another person directly resulting from careless or reckless actions. Negligence does not encompass harmful actions that were intentional, but it does relate to actions caused by a person acting irresponsibly.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: A claim stating that the incident was a direct cause of emotional trauma for the plaintiff. This plea cannot include mild stress, but constitutes intense emotional strain and hardship. You can claim emotional distress not only as the result of your own injuries, but also for the injuries or loss of your loved ones in the accident.
Pedestrian Accident: Any incident involving a pedestrian, but these cases are typically related to car accidents that cause harm to pedestrians. Due to the fragile nature of humans compared to large motor vehicles, pedestrian accidents can often be the cause for severe damage and even wrongful death.
Personal Injury: Damage, harm, or injury to a person’s physical or mental being. Personal injuries do not include any damage done to property or possessions.
Plaintiff: Any person who begins a lawsuit against another party.
Policy Limits: The maximum amount an insurance company will pay out for a personal injury claim. The insurance declaration page for each party discloses policy limits.
Soft Tissue Injury: Any damage or injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, connective tissues, cartilage, or other parts of the body. This category of injury does not include bones.
Statute of Limitations: The specified amount of time a person can file a lawsuit before filing is barred. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is usually 2 years from the date of the accident, unless the claim involves a minor. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is usually 2 years from the date the person sustained the injury by malpractice, or from the time a person should be aware they were a victim of malpractice. There are additional time limitations to evaluate when the malpractice involves a minor or infant.
Trial Attorney: An attorney who is familiar with the Rules of Court and routinely appears in Court on behalf of clients. Trial lawyers have experience with various issues regarding a personal injury case and can handle the case from beginning to end, including representing you before a judge and jury. Our New Jersey accident lawyers have extensive experience handling all aspects of a personal injury case, including appearing in court for trial. Attorney Todd Leonard is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: A type of insurance coverage meant to protect you if you are in an accident with someone who does not have insurance. These are typically called UM Claims.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage: A similar insurance coverage to the one listed above, but this one will help if you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. These are referred to as UIM Claims.
Vicious Dog Hearing: Often, the local animal control facility will hold a hearing after a dog bites someone to determine whether it is truly vicious in nature. If the animal is vicious, it may be euthanized; if not, it will be free to return to its owner.
Wage Loss Claim: A request for payment regarding lost income or loss of future income after your injury must be specifically detailed. The court will not look at assumptions or speculations related to your income. It is important to have supporting documents such as wage loss documents from your employer, W-2 forms, and tax returns.
Whiplash: Rear-end accidents are the most common causes of whiplash injuries. The pain is usually caused by a hyperflexion and extension of your body from the sudden de-acceleration. Whiplash can cause severe strain to the cervical spine due to the extreme and sudden change from traveling fast and coming to a complete stop.
Witness: Each side of a case is allowed to call individuals on their behalf who can attest to how the accident occurred, as well as other relevant facts such as your injuries and damages. There are two classifications of witnesses. Lay witnesses, who are not experts, will testify on relevant issues related to your case, but they cannot provide expert analysis. Expert witnesses can testify based on their experience and knowledge in a particular field, and they can help the trier of fact on complex issues such as medicine, engineering, or scientific issues. In accordance with the Rules of the New Jersey Courts, you must disclose the identity of your lay and expert witnesses before proceeding to trial.
Wrongful Death: Wrongful death occurs when a family member or loved one is killed as the result of an accident caused by someone else. Typically, parents, children, and spouses are the ones who bring forth these claims. The two elements of a wrongful death claim are the pecuniary, or wrongful death claim, and the survival action.