ALABAMA PERSONAL INJURY GLOSSARY
Ferguson & Ferguson
Attorneys at Law
ADR stand for Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Broad Property damage coverage that waives your deductible.
Claimant/Plaintiff: you, the person making the claim and seeking money for damages, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and related financial losses.
Consortium is defined as the right of each spouse to the company, society, co-operation, affection and aid of the other in every conjugal relation. Loss of consortium is a separate cause of action resulting from the injury to one’s spouse.
Damages: there are three broad types:
Deductible is the portion you, the insured, have to pay to contribute to the payment of a loss. A higher deductible should lower your premium. Ask your agent to quote you for a low and a high deductible.
General damages: your pain and suffering, mental and physical, and your general disability.
Special damages: out-of-pocket losses, lost earnings and treatment bills.
Punitive damages: extra money juries in some states can add to the above damages to punish especially bad conduct.
Defendant: the person or entity you are making the claim against.
Defenses: an insurance company representative often raises some defenses to a claim. These may potentially reduce the value of the case. Contributory negligence, etc.
Jurisdiction refers to the courts authority to hear a case. Jurisdiction is determined by statute as well as common law. There are two kinds of jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Subject Matter jurisdiction refers to the matter in dispute. In this case is would be the collision of the cars. Personal Jurisdiction refers to the people involved in the dispute.
Loss of Services: in many states a person other than the actually injured person can bring a derivative suit–for example, the uninjured spouse can seek damages for loss of the injured spouse’s services. (consortium)
Med Pay medical bills can be paid by many different sources depending on the law of the State and the order of priority. Ask your agent how your medical bills are paid whether or not you have health insurance and whether or not the at fault driver is known or unknown. Most policies provide $1,000.00, $2,000.00, $5,000.00 or $10,000.00 in Medical coverage.
Named Insured is the person named in the insurance contract that will be driving the motorcycle or vehicle. Normally the spouse and any residents of the house, of the named insured who also lives at the same address will also be covered. This is one reason to keep your address current on your drivers license.
Negligence: the lack of due care or failure to act reasonably on the part of the person or corporation.
Notice of Claim: Many governmental bodies (municipalities, public corporations) need to have notice of a claim long before suit must be brought. This is generally a very short period of time, which varies according to state law and the particular governmental body. Don’t let the time elapse!
Proximate or Legal Cause: the need for a substantial link between the incident and the injuries that you suffered.
Statute of Limitations: the period of time within which you must sue, or otherwise you will be barred from suit. No two states have the same rules and often it depends upon the legal theory of your suit. Sometimes the issue is so complex that a court must resolve it. In Alabama there is a 2 year Statute of Limitations for personal injury claims.
Theft Coverage obviously is coverage for the theft of your vehicle. Leaving keys in the ignition or easily available may be a reason for your insurance company to deny a claim. Alarms, often will lower your insurance premiums.
Tort: a civil (not criminal) wrong. e.g. auto or motorcycle accidents caused by the other party.
Uninsured Motorists Coverage is coverage on your vehicle that will pay you for your pain and suffering if the at fault driver does not have insurance (is uninsured) to pay. In some states this coverage may cover your motorcycle/auto as well.
Under Insured Motorists Coverage is coverage you purchase that and pays you if the at fault driver did not have enough insurance to cover the damage that he did. Again this is typically for your pain and suffering and injuries. In many states you must sign a form to refuse such coverage. If you did not sign the form, you normally have coverage.
Wrongful Death: If a person dies due to the fault of another, a claim may be brought to collect damages. These damages generally include both the pain and suffering the person had before death, the financial loss of beneficiaries and, in some states, for the suffering of the bereaved. The law is very complex as to who may bring the claim and the people to whom the money goes. In many states pain and suffering are not recoverable unless suit is filed before the death.
“20/40″ This notation means there is $20,000 worth of insurance for a single claimant and no more than $40,000 total for all injuries to all people in a single injury accident.