Florida Car Accident Definitions and Terminology

Car Accident Case Terminology “A”

When litigating a car accident case, you are likely to encounter a variety of terms with which you were not previously familiar. It is important for you to understand the terminology of typical car accident claims so that you can more easily follow the progression of your own claims. Of course, your attorney will explain everything you need to know, and you are always free to ask questions of your legal counsel. 

Some general terms commonly used in car accident cases, starting with the beginning of the alphabet include:

Accident Report – The term “accident report” refers to the official, written documentation regarding your car accident. It is usually completed by a police officer or officers who responded to the scene and performed an investigation at the time of the crash. 

Act of God – When someone uses the term “act of God,” they are referring to something that occurred as a result of unavoidable and natural events. Acts of God are not caused by humans and include things like floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – Alternative dispute resolution, commonly abbreviated “ADR,” is a means of resolving a legal conflict outside of court. A court might still need to approve the resolution, but it is agreed upon by the parties outside of a courtroom. Examples of ADR include mediation and arbitration. 

Attorney-Client Privilege – You have probably heard of this term but might not know to what situations it applies. Attorney-client privilege means the information that you share with your attorney cannot be shared with other parties. It exists to encourage free and open communication between clients and lawyers. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “B”

We continue our defining common terms used in car accident cases with the letter “B.” It is important for car accident clients to understand some of the general terminology that will be used throughout their cases, because this allows them to follow the steps of their litigations. As always, your attorney will answer anything about your case that you do not understand. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Bad-Faith – The term “bad faith” refers to something said or done without performing due diligence or with negative intentions. For instance, if someone makes a bad-faith claim to an insurance company, the person is alleging that his or her accident claim was denied without due justification.

Benefit – In the context of personal injury and car accident claims, a “benefit” is a financial sum paid to a person by his or her employer, an insurance carrier, or a government program. When someone receives payments from Social Security, those are referred to as social security benefits. 

Bodily Injury – This term is a little more self-explanatory and includes the physical injuries from a car accident, as opposed to mental, emotional, or financial injuries. Car accidents usually involve bodily injury in the form of lacerations, broken bones, blunt trauma, and head trauma. 

Burden of Proof – “Burden of proof” refers to the responsibility for proving a claim in court. In a car accident case, the person bringing the lawsuit (called the “plaintiff”) has the responsibility of proving to the court that he or she was injured because of the actions of the other driver. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “C”

We continue to define car accident case common terminology with the letter “C.” Victims of car accidents who bring legal claims will hear many different terms used by their attorneys, as well as the defense attorneys or insurance adjusters, during the process of litigation and claims negotiation. Knowing what these terms mean will help you more easily follow along with your case. 

More terms frequently used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Causation – Causation is one of the elements all claimants in negligence cases must prove. The term means a showing that one or more actions or omissions caused something else to happen. In the case of a car accident, injured persons will show that their damages were caused by the failures of the at-fault driver. 

Compensable Injury – The term “compensable injury” is most often used in cases involving workers’ compensation, but it might also be used in a car accident case or other personal injury cases. It means that someone has sustained injuries that are covered under an insurance policy, or that someone has suffered injuries deserving of compensation. 

Concussion – A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. It results from a forceful impact on a person’s head, like when someone hits his head against a part of a vehicle during a car accident. Many victims of car accidents do not know they have concussions right after an accident, then develop unusual symptoms afterward, like dizziness, nausea, vision disturbances, and sleep disturbances.

Contingency Fee – Your car accident attorney will likely sign up your case on a contingency fee. This type of fee means your lawyer will only receive attorney fees from your case if your case is successful and results in an award. All attorney fees are contingent on your case’s success. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “D”

We continue defining common car accident case terminology with the letter “D.” It is important to understand some of the terms and phrases that your attorney and the other parties to your car accident case will use during litigation. You can always ask your lawyer questions, but a background knowledge of car accident case terminology will give you a head start in understanding the steps in your case.  

Additional terms used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Damages – In car accident cases, and all civil cases, we use the term “damages” to refer to the plaintiff’s injuries. These include physical injuries, as well as emotional and financial injuries. Most car accident cases are based on laws of negligence, under which damages are part of proving your case to the court. Damages might include medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, emotional distress, and mental suffering. 

Defendant – The defendant is the person against whom you are filing your legal claim. In a car accident case, this will usually be the at-fault driver and the applicable insurance company. Think of the defendant as the opposing party. 

Deposition – A deposition is part of the evidence-gathering process. During a deposition, a witness or expert appears at a location outside of court and answers questions in the presence of a court reporter. This is sworn testimony that can be used in your case. 

Discovery – “Discovery” refers to the stage of a case in which the parties trade information and gather information to use in their cases. Depositions are part of discovery, as are written questions and answers. The plaintiff and defendant will also trade documents and tangible items during discovery that allow each other to understand their cases. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “E”

We continue to define some terms commonly used in car accident cases with the letter “E.” By understanding some of the general terms that will likely be used throughout your case, you will have a smoother case process. Your attorney will guide you through the duration of the case, but you will have a head start in your claim simply by familiarizing yourself with common terminology.

Additional car accident case terms, in alphabetical order, include:

Emergency Medical Condition – An emergency medical condition is a type of medical event that is serious enough to require immediate, emergency medical care. If a person is not treated immediately for an emergency medical condition, he or she could experience extreme complications, including permanent injury or death. Car accidents can often result in emergency medical conditions.

Excess Judgment – “Excess judgment” refers to an award in an accident case that rises above the policy limits of the insurance applicable in the case. Excess judgments are usually awarded when a judge determines that an insurance carrier has demonstrated bad faith in the process of negotiating a claim. 

Expert Witness – Almost all personal injury cases will require experts to testify. Experts serve to prove certain aspects of a claim by explaining the science or technical aspects of the case to the judge or jury. For instance, in a car accident case, your attorney might hire a medical specialist to testify about your injuries or an accident scene investigator to testify about the crash events. Experts are qualified professionals who help to establish your case. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “F”

We continue our definitions of common terms used in car accident cases with the letter “F.” It is important that claimants in car accident cases understand some of the general terms that will be used during their claims and negotiations processes. This knowledge allows claimants to follow the steps involved in their cases. If at any time during your case you do not understand a term, ask your attorney to define it for you. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Fault – In car accident cases, attorneys use the term “fault” a lot. The person who was at fault in an accident is the person who caused the accident or was negligent or reckless in the events leading up to the accident. Throughout the course of your accident case, your attorney and the defense attorney will argue over fault and will argue about who shares what percentage of the fault. The defense will try to argue that you share most of the blame in the accident, and your attorney will present evidence showing the other driver was either entirely at fault or more at fault than you.

Field Adjuster – A field adjuster is someone who works on accident claims and conducts interviews with the people involved. They have similar jobs to claims adjusters but work out in the field, rather than in the office. These adjusters will meet with claimants in person, along with investigators, and will look into the cause and circumstances of the accident. 

First-Party Claim – A “first-party claim” is one in which the claimant is making a claim with his or her own insurance carrier. This is a different type of claim than one you would submit against the other driver’s insurance company or against the at-fault driver in court.  

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “G”

We are continuing our list of common car accident terms with the letter “G.” We are defining these terms in order to help car accident claimants understand more about their cases. If you have a foundational knowledge going into your case, you will be more likely to follow along and stay involved throughout the duration of the claim. 

Additional terminology commonly associated with car accident cases, in alphabetical order, includes:

General Damages – General damages include subjective components to your car accident injuries. This usually involves pain and suffering on a physical and mental level, disfigurement, emotional distress, lost future opportunities, effects of the injuries on your anticipated lifespan, and the effects of your injuries on your relationships. These damages are considered difficult to quantify and will require the help of experts to present a number to the judge or jury in your case. 

Good Faith – “Good faith” refers to the intentions of someone in saying something or doing something. In car accident claims, we might say that the parties are negotiating in good faith, which means they are engaging in settlement negotiations with the honest intent of arriving at a fair settlement. We might also say that the insurance company did or did not act in good faith in agreeing to pay certain costs associated with accident injury claims. 

Gross Negligence – The term “gross negligence” means that the at-fault party acted with an extreme lack of care. This is rises above general negligence and falls slightly below the level of an intentional act. It is a conscious disregard for someone else’s safety. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “H”

We are continuing to define common car accident case terms with the letter “H.” When you are involved a car accident and pursue a legal claim, you will hear various terms used by the parties to your case and your attorney. If you understand what most of these terms mean, you will have few issues tracking your case and communicating with your lawyer about the accident. 

Some general terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Hazard – A hazard is something that can cause injury to someone else under a particular set of circumstances. The term is often used in other types of accident cases, like slip-and-fall cases, construction accidents cases, and premises liability cases. However, a hazard might exist in your car accident case, as well. Perhaps the other driver created a hazard through his or her actions, or a hazard/object was left in the road by a commercial truck or road worker. These hazards might play a role in your case and your chances for recovery.

Health Care Expenses – Your health care expenses in your car accident case will include the bills you received for medical treatment associated with your accident injuries. This will likely include emergency room bills and individual bills for doctors in the emergency room, but will also include physical therapy, medications, and specialty physicians. 

HIPAA – The term “HIPAA” stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This act was passed to protect the privacy of medical patients, and the law disallows medical providers from discussing patient care or sharing patient records without authorization from the patient. When you hire a lawyer for your car accident case, your lawyer will have you fill out a HIPAA authorization that allows your lawyer to request and view your car accident medical records. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “I”

We continue our defining common terms used in car accident cases with the letter “I.” Claimants in car accident cases should understand some of the terms that will be frequently used during their litigations and claims processes. A knowledge of basic terminology allows people to better absorb the information shared in their cases. As always, if you are having trouble understanding any part of your claim, ask your attorney for an explanation. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Independent Medical Examination – An independent medical examination is kind of like a second opinion. It is an appointment with a medical doctor in which a plaintiff will receive an evaluation regarding his or her injuries. Lawyers often refer to this by the acronym “IME.” Defendants usually are the parties requesting these examinations in order to receive an opinion outside of the plaintiff’s expert testimony. However, there are some circumstances under which the plaintiff’s lawyer might want his or her client to undergo an IME.

Insurer – The “insurer” is an insurance company. This will be the company that provided insurance coverage to you or to the other driver involved in your car accident case.

Insured – The “insured” is the person who bought an insurance policy. In your car accident claim, this will be you or the other driver involved.

Interrogatories – Interrogatories are part of the discovery process of a case. Each party to a car accident case (and every civil case) will have the opportunity to ask the other questions in writing, which are called interrogatories. The other party will have so many days to respond to all of those questions in writing. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “J”

We continue to define common terminology used in car accident litigation with the letter “J.” It is important for car accident claimants to have a basic knowledge of the terms used throughout their cases. This way, claimants will be able to follow the steps in their cases and understand what they still need to discuss with their attorneys. 

You can, of course, ask your lawyer to explain any terms you do not know, or you can find almost all terms through an online search. It is important, however, for your lawyer to know what you do and do not understand to make sure he or she has adequately explained things about your case to you. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Judgement – The judgment in a case is the decision that results from the car accident claim. This is the jury’s decision or the judge’s decision, and it ends the claim in favor of one party or the other. When the court enters its final judgment, the case is officially and formally disposed. This means all matters have been decided, and the party who did not prevail can begin to form next steps (such as a possible appeal).

Jury Instructions – The jury instructions in a case are the directions that the judge on the case will deliver to the jury members before they start deliberating on the case. The instructions are based on state law, and they inform that jurors about what they need to find before reaching a decision on the case. The jury instructions tell the jurors what the claimant must have proven to prevail and how the jurors must find if they decide certain information to be true. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “K”

We continue presenting definitions of common terminology used in car accident cases with the letter “K.” Plaintiffs and claimants in car accident cases need to have an understanding of some of the terms likely to be used during their claims processes. This knowledge allows claimants to play a more active role in their cases and follow along with their litigations more closely. 

Of course, your lawyer is always available for you if you need to ask questions or clarify something that has been said during the course of your case. Be sure to ask questions anytime you are unsure about something, as your understanding of your own case is very important. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Known Loss Rule – The “known loss rule” is a concept that means people cannot secure insurance coverage for losses they have already incurred. This includes losses that the insured (the person covered by the insurance) knows about at the time he or she obtains insurance. The rule prohibits people from trying to receive an insurance payment for something that was previously lost or damaged or for injuries they suffered prior to obtaining insurance. 

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney in your area. Auto accidents are prevalent in the United States and can lead to serious injury and the loss of loved ones. 

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that 37,461 people died in vehicle accidents in the United States in 2016. This was an increase of almost 6 percent from the prior year (2015). National figures from 2017 show that even more people died in motor vehicle accidents that year. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 40,000 people died in traffic crashes across the country in 2017. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “L”

We continue to define terms commonly used in car accident cases with the letter “L When claimants have an understanding of the terms their lawyers use and the other parties to their claims use, they are more able to participate in their cases. 

Additional terminology used commonly in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, includes:

Legal Malpractice – Legal malpractice refers to a situation in which a person’s attorney does not fulfill his or her duties of representation. Lawyers have to represent their clients honestly and fairly and must always have their clients’ informed consent prior to making important case decisions. When lawyers do not fulfill these duties, they can be held accountable in an action for legal malpractice. 

Letter of Protection – A letter of protection is a document that a lawyer might send to a medical provider, informing the provider that his or her client’s treatment will be paid out of any potential settlement or award in the client’s case. This is an assurance that sometimes allows people to receive treatment they cannot otherwise afford. 

Liability – The word “liability” refers to someone’s fault or responsibility for a given event, like a car accident. The at-fault driver is considered liable for the victim’s injuries, and insurance companies can be liable for payments. 

Loss – In the context of a car accident claim, the term “loss” refers to the injuries the victim has suffered. The victim’s losses include not only physical injuries, but also injuries associated with emotional and mental distress and financial hardship. Car accidents can cause significant financial strain on victims because of medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning potential. These are all losses that can be claimed as damages in the case. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “M”

We continue to define common terms used in car accident cases with the letter “M.” It is important for accident claimants to know some of the typical terms that will be used throughout their claims, because this allows them to track the steps in their cases. Your car accident attorney will always be able to answer questions about any terms you do not understand. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Maximum Medical Improvement – Maximum medical improvement, abbreviated MMI, refers to the time when a person has recovered or improved as much as a medical professional could expect. At the point of maximum medical improvement, the injured person is not expected to get any better. The term is most commonly used in workers’ compensation cases but also might appear in car accident cases.

Mediation – Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It is a process whereby the parties to a legal action can come to an agreement outside of court. Mediation will involve one or several out-of-court meetings in which the parties discuss their positions and attempt to reach a resolution that satisfies everyone. 

Motion – A motion is a way of asking a court for relief. Motions can be written or oral, and they ask the court to do something in favor of one of the parties. The lawyer you hire for your car accident case might file numerous motions throughout your litigation. Each time, your lawyer is asking for relief on your behalf. Motions can be adversarial in nature, or they can be agreed upon between the parties. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “N”

We continue defining some common car accident case terminology with the letter “N.” Car accident claimants should understand the terms and phrases their attorneys and the other parties to their cases are using during the claims processes. 

Additional terms used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Negligence – “Negligence” refers to the type of law involved in a car accident case, as well as the conduct of the other driver. When someone is negligent, he or she has failed to use the basic care one would expect in the situation. Under principles of negligence law, a car accident claimant will have to prove certain elements for a successful case. These include the existence of a duty to use basic care, failure to use that care (also known as “breach”), the existence of an injury by the claimant, and proof that the injury was caused by the other driver’s failure. 

Negotiation – In any car accident case, you hope to eventually reach a period of negotiation. This is the process during which the parties discuss a possible settlement. Negotiations can take a long time, depending on how forthcoming the parties want to be at the start. If both parties come to the table with realistic amounts in mind, the process could come to a quick resolution. Negotiation will involve much back-and-forth discussion, which your lawyer will explain to you. 

No-Fault – The term “no-fault” can refer to a type of auto insurance or to a law regarding car accidents in a state. A person can have no-fault insurance to cover his or her financial damages in the event of an accident. This claim will pay regardless of which driver was to blame for the accident. Many states also have no-fault laws that require car accident victims to submit claims to their own insurance companies before pursuing actions against the other drivers. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “O”

We continue to define numerous terms commonly used in car accident claims with the letter “O.” Car accident claimants who know some of the terms that will be used in their cases will have a much easier time understanding the various steps their attorneys are taking on their behalves. 

If at any time during your case you do not understand a part of the process, ask your lawyer to explain it to you. As the client, it is important you are able to follow your case and provide input. 

Additional terms used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Opening Statement – The opening statement is one of the first steps of a claim that has proceeded to trial. If your car accident claim goes to trial, after the jury is selected, the trial will officially begin. Each side will be able to provide an opening statement to the jury, during which the parties’ attorneys will share their versions of the case. This statement is not a place to argue but to introduce the jury to the case. 

Out-of-Court Resolution – An out-of-court resolution is an agreement between the parties to a claim that fully resolves the case. It involves a settlement between the parties that they reach outside of the courtroom. Depending on the nature of the case and the stage of litigation, these agreements may or may not need approval of a judge. 

Out-of-Pocket Expenses – A party’s out-of-pocket expenses in a car accident case include the money that the victim has had to pay on his or her own. This refers to money spent on medical bills and prescriptions, as well as money spent traveling to doctors or specialists. It also includes any devices the victim needed to buy because of the car accident injuries (crutches, etc.)  

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “P”

We continue defining common terminology used in car accident claims with the letter “P.” All claimants in car accident cases should know about frequently used terms for their cases and claims processes. This knowledge will allow claimants to play a more active role in their cases, which will be beneficial to the claimants and their lawyers. 

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

  • Paralegal – Your lawyer will likely refer to his or her paralegal very early in your claim. Paralegals are an integral part of lawyers’ staff, and they assist lawyers in litigation processes of car accident claims. Paralegals will often perform research, obtain records, and work with clients. 
  • Plaintiff – The plaintiff in your car accident case is you. The person filing any civil lawsuit is called the plaintiff, both in pleadings and in other steps involved in the litigation.
  • Pleading – A pleading is a written document that a lawyer files with the court. The initial complaint filed in your car accident lawsuit is a pleading, as is the answer filed by the defendant. Pleadings request certain relief from the court.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop from a car accident. When people experience something traumatic like a vehicle wreck, they often suffer from nightmares, depression, anxiety, or feelings of helplessness. These are signs of a serious medical disorder that needs immediate attention from a qualified professional. 
  • Precedent – Precedent refers to case law formed during lawsuits that came prior to yours. The decisions that courts make form a basis for other claimants to plead, allege, or argue in certain ways. The precedent set by past cases usually has a strong effect on the cases that come after. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “R”

We continue defining frequently used terminology in car accident claims with the letter “R.” An understanding of these basic terms will help claimants participate more meaningfully in their claims processes.  

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Reasonable Care – Reasonable care is a term used in negligence claims, which entails most car accident cases, and refers to the level and nature of care that a person should show another person in a given situation. The level of care necessary can change depending on the situation. For instance, a commercial carrier and a taxi driver owe people a higher level of care on the roads than a regular driver. 

Rehabilitation – When someone goes through rehabilitation after a car accident, that means the person has undergone the treatment necessary to recover from the accident as much as possible. Sometimes this will involve in-patient care at a nursing facility. It can also involve physical therapy sessions and appointments with specialists. 

Requests for Admissions – In civil liability cases, lawyers will sometimes send the other side what are called “Requests for Admissions.” This is seeking to gain admissions from the other party to the case about certain facts. While these often result in blanket denials, they can sometimes be helpful tools in a claimant’s case. 

Requests for Production of Documents – Your lawyer will likely send the other party to your case a Request for Production of Documents (often shortened to “Requests for Production” or “RFPs”). This is part of the discovery process in your case and is a tool for gaining information and documents that help you investigate and build your case. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “s”

We continue to define commonly used terminology in car accident cases with the letter “S.” A claimant’s understanding of these common terms will facilitate better participation. It is important that clients always understand the steps in their cases, which often starts with understanding the terminology involved.

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

  • Settlement – A settlement is an agreement reached between the parties to a case in which one party agrees to pay the other a sum of money, and the other party agrees to release his or her claims. The settlement resolves the case before a trial takes place (or sometimes before the trial concludes). It is one of the goals your car accident lawyer will set for your case’s successful resolution. 
  • Standard of Care – The term “standard of care” refers to the level of care and treatment required in a given set of circumstances. This is most commonly used in the setting of a medical malpractice case, in which the standard of care can vary depending on the treatment involved. Plaintiffs and their attorneys use experts to establish the applicable standard of care. 
  • Statute of Limitations – The statute of limitations is, in essence, the deadline for filing your car accident case in court. Every state has its own deadline for filing car accident claims, and if that deadline passes, you can be completely prohibited from pursuing recovery in court. 
  • Subpoena – A subpoena is a tool that can be used in a case to compel someone to appear in court or to testify outside of court. The court overseeing the case will issue the subpoena, and consequences can be placed upon the subject of the subpoena if he or she does not appear at the stated place at the stated time. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued

We continue with definitions of common terminology in car accident cases with the letter “T.” Plaintiffs in car accident cases should have an understanding of some terminology likely to be used throughout the process of their claims. This allows plaintiffs to have a more participatory role in their claims.

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Third-Party Claims – Third-party claims are those pursued against another person’s insurance carrier. If you are injured in a car accident, and you pursue a claim against the other driver’s insurance, rather than submitting a claim to your own insurance, you are making a third-party claim. The other driver is considered the first party to the claim, the driver’s insurance company is considered the second party, and you are considered the third party. 

Tort – Car accident cases are part of what is called “tort law.” A tort is a wrongdoing, and tort law exists for pursuing cases that stem from other people’s wrongdoings. Torts can be intentional or negligent. There are many types of tort cases, and all are part of the civil justice system. 

Traumatic Brain Injury – A traumatic brain injury is one type of injury that can potentially happen during a car accident. These injuries occur during a forceful impact to the head, such as the head hitting an object within the car or the head hitting the ground. These injuries can cause vague symptoms, such as headaches and dizziness, and can be extremely serious. 

Trier of Fact – The trier of fact is the person or persons hearing evidence in a case in order to eventually make a determination in the case. Depending on the type of trial in a car accident claim, the trier of fact could be the judge or the jury.  

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “V”

We continue spelling out definitions for common terms used in car accident claims with the letter “V.” Car accident victims and claimants should have an understanding of some of the terms that will likely come up during their claims processes. Knowing these terms can help claimants hold a more participatory role in their accident claims.  

Your car accident lawyer is, of course, always available to answer questions or help you understand anything that does not make sense during your case. Your participation in your case is important, so be sure to ask if you do not understand something at any point in the claims process.  

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Verdict – The verdict in a case is the decision that a judge or a jury makes after deliberation and upon hearing all of the evidence. The jury or judge will find in favor of one party or the other, and the judge will then enter the verdict. 

Verdict Director – A verdict director is a set of instructions given to the jury for deliberation. Depending on the jurisdiction your case is in, these instructions might be called verdict directors or might simply be called jury instructions. The instructions tell the jury what elements of the law need to be present for them to find in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant in the case.

Voir Dire – Voir dire is the process through which the lawyers for both sides choose a jury. It is also commonly referred to as “jury selection.” During the process, the lawyers will ask questions of groups of jurors and will choose a full panel to sit for the case. The lawyers will have the opportunity to disqualify jurors that they believe have biases that cannot be overcome. 

Car Accident Case Terminology Continued “W”

We continue defining frequent terminology used in car accident cases with the letter “W.” This is the last letter of our definitions glossary. 

Car accident claimants should work to understand many terms that are likely to be used in their cases, as this will assist in their understanding of the entire litigation process. If a claimant does not understand a term used in his or her case at any point, it’s important to ask for clarification, rather than remaining in the dark.  

Additional terms commonly used in car accident cases, in alphabetical order, include:

Witness – A witness is a person who either saw the car accident take place, treated the injured persons, investigated the scene, reviewed the case, or otherwise has helpful information to share about the case. Each side will have a set of witnesses that can potentially help that side’s case. Witnesses can also be experts who have been hired by either side. Witnesses build the various elements of the case by helping to establish the facts and the other items that need to be proved to be successful in court. 

Wrongful death – Wrongful death is a type of civil claim pursued by family members or a personal representative on behalf of a person who has died. The claimants will allege that the decedent died because of the negligent actions of another person or entity. In the case of a car accident, surviving family members might bring a wrongful death action against the at-fault driver and an insurance carrier, stating their loved one’s death was due to the negligent conduct that led to the accident.