Decoding Common Car Accident Words And Terms

Being involved in a car accident is confusing enough without having to learn a new language. Unfortunately, some victims may find themselves having to do both soon after an accident. Once you get familiar with the truly important legal terminology, it all becomes clear. For help with that, take a look at some simple explanations of what you need to understand after an accident.

1. Liability 

One of the first unfamiliar terms you might encounter is this word that means, roughly, fault. The driver that is held liable for the accident caused the accident. That means they are responsible for paying you and not the other way around. For victims, accident liability should be clear and hopefully undisputed.

2. Accident Damages 

This term can be confusing because the word can mean several things. In this case, damages refer to the many ways your life has been changed by the accident. These are all ways you can be paid compensation for and they are:

  • Medical treatment costs
  • Lost time from work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future medical treatment for those with ongoing needs
  • Lost or damaged property like your vehicle and more

If you are offered a settlement that leaves out any of the above damages, don't agree to it.

3. Economic and Non-Economic Damages 

Closely related to the above, this separates all other forms of damage, known as economic damages, from pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a unique non-economic form of damage because a certain dollar amount is not as easily assigned to it. Most insurers and personal injury lawyers, however, have methods of calculating pain and suffering damages using medical expenses or other ways.

4. Mitigating Factors 

When it comes to being paid compensation, you don't want any mitigating factors. These issues can detract and subtract from your compensation if they are proven. For example, if you fail to go to the emergency room after an accident but notice physical problems later, the delay in seeking medical help could be a mitigating factor.

5. Settlement 

This term covers money paid to you outside of a court judgment. You can be paid a settlement any time you agree with what is offered. It's inadvisable to accept a settlement without the advice of a personal injury lawyer, however. They know what you should be paid and they can negotiate with the other side to make sure you are paid that amount.

6. Contingency Fee Arrangements 

It sounds complex, but it really just means that you don't have to pay your personal injury lawyer unless you win your case. The legal fees are based on a percentage of your predicted winning settlement or judgment if your case goes to trial.

Speak to a car accident lawyer to find out more about any of the above terms.