When you get into an accident, your world can change quickly. Because you may previously have spent little time thinking about medical procedures, traumatic injuries, or accident lawyers, you might start to feel like you’re in over your head. This is perfectly normal. You should, however, give yourself a brief education on the legal terms relevant to auto accidents. This can give you an advantage when it comes to protecting yourself and maximizing your compensation.
Legal Terms To Know
Though there are many terms in the world of accident law, some are fairly self-explanatory or less important. Here are a few of the most crucial to understand.
This term refers to the payments made as monetary compensation. After an accident, expenses you incur can be compensated if you can reasonably prove that your expenses are the fault of the other party. Damages can include compensation for injuries and harm to your property and vehicle. Medical bills, pain and suffering, repairs, and even lost wages from work are considered damages.
2. Burden of Proof
In a court case, the burden of proof refers to the responsibility of proving what did or did not happen. After an accident, the burden rests with the party who incurred expenses and made a claim to receive compensation. This means that the plaintiff, or the party making an accusation, must use the evidence at their disposal to show how the other driver was at fault.
3. Facts of Loss
The facts of loss is one of the lesser-known legal terms in the public consciousness, but it simply refers to the objective facts of a case that help to demonstrate liability. Often, these facts are readily recorded in a police report, but other sources of information can be admissible as well.
4. Pain and Suffering
This is a term for a category of damage. Drivers and insurers alike often overlook pain and suffering. This is because it can be difficult to prove and easy to fake. For this reason, insurance agencies rarely include suffering damages in an initial settlement offer. Experiencing pain and discomfort, however, is very common after a collision, so you should always tell your attorneys what you are undergoing.
Enduring pain and suffering doesn’t always mean that you have physical body pains stemming from a broken bone or traumatic wound. Car collisions often result in extreme anxiety related to driving, depression over lost competencies, or increased stress. While it isn’t easy to prove the impact these problems have on your life, they are a legitimate reason to talk to your attorney.
Liability is a relatively common term that describes the fault of one or more parties in causing an accident. It’s important to remember that both parties can bear some responsibility or negligence for an incident.
Legal terms related to negligence are important to understand because knowing what makes an individual legally negligent can help you to communicate clearly with your lawyer. As driving is a common but relatively hazardous activity, all drivers must act with a reasonable degree of care for others on the road at all times. A failure to do so is considered negligence.
7. Negligence Per Se
Often an accident happens when one party clearly violates a traffic law, such as stopping at a stop sign. When a driver rolls through the stop sign into another vehicle, for example, he is committing “negligence per see.” This condition is separate because it is possible to be negligent without demonstrably violating a law.
8. Contributory Negligence
A third kind of negligence is contributory, or “comparative.” These terms describe a situation in which both drivers are considered partially responsible for a crash. In such situations, one party “contributes” to the negligence of the other, resulting in an accident. Often in such cases, a judge may attribute a portion of the responsibility to one party and another portion to the other, resulting in two percentages of the total damages.
A tort is an act that causes harm to another person or vehicle. A tort is grounds for a civil lawsuit when you can show that another driver acted negligently or harmed you intentionally.
Legal terms related to insurance can be confusing, but they are important to understand. While it is illegal in Arizona to drive without insurance, some drivers, unfortunately, choose to do so anyway. As per the state’s rules, the minimum coverage should provide:
- $50,000 of coverage for total physical injury or death costs after an accident
- $25,000 of coverage for physical injury or death inflicted on another driver
- $15,000 for vehicle damage
In some states, drivers must carry “uninsured motorist insurance.” This provides extra insurance in case you are harmed by an at-fault driver. In Arizona, this is not required, as insurance companies must offer a minimum amount for uninsured events.
Underinsured coverage works on a similar principle. If the person you have a collision with has insufficient coverage to cover your damages, underinsured coverage provides additional resources. Although this is also not required in Arizona, a surprising number of motorists are either uninsured or underinsured. It can, therefore, be a good idea to pay a little extra for this coverage.
11. Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a period after which you can no longer file a claim. This is one of many legal terms that refer to concepts that vary by state. In Arizona, there is generally a two-year deadline for filing a complaint against another party for an auto accident. Even filing a few hours late can mean that a complaint is no longer valid. Read more about the importance and advantages of hiring an attorney as soon as possible here.
Once You’ve Got Your Legal Terms Down
Many cases take months or even years to settle. When compiling necessary paperwork for your attorney, you should try to have everything you need as quickly as possible. If you are still waiting on files or medical records, let your attorney know, so they can begin working with what you have.
If you’ve had an auto accident in Arizona and need a knowledgeable attorney, MDK Law Group has you covered. We can clarify any confusing legal terms and can give your case the attention it deserves. Contact our office for a free consultation today.