It might be challenging to understand exactly what insurance companies and courts are talking about after a car crash. They often use legal jargon that is familiar to them but new to you.

You deserve to understand what they are talking about and how it may impact your claim. Your car accident lawyer is always available to answer your questions and ensure that you know what is happening in your case. However, we will provide some common definitions that might help you throughout the car accident recovery process.

15 Common Car Accident Legal Terms Defined

Some of the common terms you hear during a Wisconsin, Illinois, or Iowa car accident case include:

  • Answer. After you file a complaint in court, the defendant has the opportunity to file a pleading in response to your complaint. The defendant’s pleading is known as the answer. The defendant has a limited amount of time to file an answer. The answer should include the defendant’s response to the complaint allegations and may include legal defenses.
  • Burden of Proof. As the injured party, you have the burden of proving your case. In a civil car accident case, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is legally responsible for causing the accident and your resulting injuries.
  • Cause of Action. A cause of action is your legal claim or the reason you are filing a lawsuit.
  • Comparative Negligence. The amount of fault attributable to you is known as comparative negligence. Your recovery may be reduced if you were partly at fault for the car accident.
  • Contingency Fee. A form of attorney’s fees used by Hupy and Abraham and other personal injury lawyers. A contingency fee arrangement means that you don’t pay any hourly legal fees. Instead, you pay a percentage of your settlement or court recovery. Hupy and Abraham offers a Win, or It’s Free Guarantee. You won’t owe us anything unless you make a car accident recovery.
  • Complaint. The pleading you file in court to begin your car accident case. Your complaint must comply with local court rules, state your legal basis for filing a lawsuit, and make a request for financial recovery.
  • Damages. The amount of money you may recover in a car accident case. Your damages may include compensation for past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other car accident losses.
  • Demand Letter. A letter you send to the insurance company stating why the insurance company owes you money and how much money it owes you.
  • Discovery. The legal process for gathering evidence. Some common forms of discovery include depositions, written interrogatories, and requests for the production of documents.
  • Medical Release Form. A legal form that allows your doctor to release medical records to someone else. Your attorney, opposing counsel, or the insurance company may request a medical release form. It’s essential to have your lawyer review the form before signing it.
  • Settlement.  A settlement provides you with legal compensation in exchange for either withdrawing or not filing a lawsuit. Once you accept a settlement, it is binding and you are unlikely to recover any additional compensation for your injuries.
  • Statute of Limitations. The amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Your complaint must be filed in court before the statute of limitations expires.
  • Subrogation. This allows your insurance company, typically your health insurance company, to make a claim against your recovery for the bills it paid during your treatment.
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If you are hurt in a hit and run or if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your claim, then you may make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim against your own insurance policy if you have that coverage.

Get the Personal Legal Attention You Deserve After a Car Crash

Car accident claims can be confusing and complex, but you don’t have to handle your recovery alone. Our experienced car accident lawyers are here to help you.

For more than half a century, our Midwest car accident attorneys have helped injured victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. So far, we’ve recovered more than $1 billion on behalf of more than 70,000 personal injury clients.

Please contact us today to learn how we may help you. We would be happy to schedule a free consultation with you in your home, hospital room, or one of our 11 Midwest law offices, or we can meet by phone or video conference. The choice is yours, but we hope you won’t spend one more day wondering how your car accident case works or whether you are doing the right thing to protect your rights. Instead, we hope you will talk to us and let us help you protect your recovery.

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Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham