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Auto Accidents: Personal Injury Terminology
The personal injury process can be quite confusing, especially to those unfamiliar with key legal, medical, and insurance terminology. Insurance companies are often aware of the limited knowledge that the average person may possess in such areas, and some may attempt to use this lack of understanding to your detriment. For example, insurance carriers may attempt to negotiate a quick settlement by providing their own distorted explanation of the claims process, policy limits, or negligence actions in general. Our team of dedicated injury attorneys believe that insurance carriers should never take advantage of vulnerable victims of auto accidents. The following is provided by the Chicago injury team of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. to assist accident victims in understanding key personal injury terms that may arise following an auto accident.
- Personal Injury: Legal term referring to injury to the body, which most commonly encompasses injury to an actual body part, such as a broken arm, or soft tissue injury, but also included emotional and psychological damage.
- Wrongful Death: Legal term which typically refers to a civil cause of action whereby the family members or spouses of an individual killed as a result of the negligence of another seek compensation for the loss of that person’s life. Pursuant to 740 ILCS 180, Sec 2, “[T]he jury may give such damages as they shall deem a fair and just compensation with reference to the pecuniary injuries resulting from such death, including damages for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering, to the surviving spouse and next of kin of such deceased person.”
- Medical Lien: Medical Providers, who render services without immediate payment, may place a lien on a future judgment, to ensure the medical provider’s receipt of compensation for medical bills that have accumulated as a result of services rendered for injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
- General Damages: Damages that are sustained as a direct consequence of the accident, but cannot be easily be assigned a monetary value, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of consortium, disfigurement, or scarring.
- Special Damages: Damages which are quantifiable, and therefore can be assigned a specific monetary value such as medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and past lost wages.
- Comparative Fault: Illinois law operates under the modified comparative negligence theory, which bars recovery for a party found to be more than at fault, and allows for recovery to those found to be 50% or less at fault.
- Settlement: Agreement between opposing parties to settle a personal injury claim for a specific amount. If the injuries sustained exceed the available bodily injury policy limits, the insurance company may, in good faith, agree to settle a claim for the entire bodily injury policy limit amount. Such settlement will then allow you to seek further recovery through other available coverage, if any, such as underinsured motorist coverage.
- Subrogation: When settlement has been reached, typically for the bodily injury portion of a personal injury claim, it is necessary the claimant sign a release, also called a subrogation agreement, or simply subrogation. During this process, the claimant agrees to release their right to pursue further claims under that particular coverage, or portion of coverage, thereby allowing the claimant to pursue compensation from a third-party.
If you or a loved one were involved in a motor vehicle accident, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. Therefore, it is important to seek legal consultation immediately following the accident, to ensure protection of your legal rights. Our team of dedicated and experienced Chicago auto accident attorneys will provide you with a free comprehensive evaluation of your personal injury legal matter.