Glossary: Here is some terminology used in this auto accident victim resource.
We hope these explanations provide you with a better understanding of common terms used in personal injury claims.
Contingency fee – A contingency fee is a method of paying a lawyer for legal representation. Instead of paying hourly or a per job fee, the lawyer receives a percentage of the money they recover for his or her client. Contingency fees are used frequently with personal injury cases.
Full tort – Full tort allows a motorist and an insurance policyholder to retain unrestricted rights to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party in an automobile accident.
Limited tort – The limited tort insurance option limits the right to sue an at fault driver for pain and suffering caused by injuries sustained in a car accident. Yet, there are exceptions to limited tort that a well-versed personal injury law firm will know how to apply and use to overcome the obstacles of limited tort.
Minimal insurance coverage amount – Most states require you to have car insurance and have laws that outline the minimum level of coverage you must buy.
Yet, the minimum limits your state requires may not be enough insurance to adequately insure you. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you carry at least $100,000 of liability bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident (known as 100/300).
We strongly recommend that you pay the small increase in your premium and select the full tort option, and UM/UIM insurance. These will be critical if you wish to protect your family.
NADA – National Auto Dealers Association car price guides similar to Kelly Blue Book and Edmund’s. This is used to establish a damaged car’s value.
No fault – If your state has no-fault auto insurance law, your policy must pay medical bills for you regardless of who caused the accident. Pennsylvania is a no fault state.
Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering has different meanings to different people and different entities. Insurance companies, of course, will try to diminish the value of pain and suffering. In addition to losses associated with physical pain and suffering, your lawyer can ask for loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and loss of quality of life. Never sign anything related to your pain and suffering claim from an insurance company without appropriate legal representation.
Serious impairment – A serious impairment can be another vague legal term courts across PA differ on whether they consider a herniated disk in the spine to be a serious impairment. However, if it causes you to be unable to perform your job, it may be considered serious enough. A facial scar, loss of limb, paralysis, and most surgeries are typically enough to be considered a serious impairment.
Tort – Tort is a private or civil wrong/injury which has violated your rights. You can usually sue another party for committing a tort if you suffered harm as a result. These types of lawsuits are between two parties.
Tort option – You can choose to change your insurance policy at any time (before an accident). You can elect to go from limited tort to full tort or from full tort to limited tort. Because of cost, many policyholders choose to reject full tort, but we strongly recommend against this. It may be better to reduce other benefits on your policy before waiving your right to sue for most injuries, as is the case with limited tort.
UIM – UIM is “Underinsured motorist” insurance coverage. UIM coverage is what you purchase to protect yourself from being injured by a party who does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you or a family member for your injuries. UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive. It is usually sold in conjunction with Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) which is intended to protect you if you are involved in an accident with a vehicle that either has no insurance, is stolen, or is unidentified ( hit and run).
UM – Uninsured motorist (see “UIM” above).