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Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., Glossary

Below are terms you may encounter on your website.

Since 1981, the personal injury lawyers and staff of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., have dedicated their legal careers to helping people who were injured as a result of the carelessness of others. Call our New Jersey car accident lawyers today at 1-800-LAW-2000 or use our online form to receive a free initial consultation.

AAJ – The American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) is a national organization of lawyers who represent accident victims.

Accident – An occurrence caused by someone’s negligence.

Affidavit – A sworn written statement signed under the penalty of perjury, in the presence of a notary public.

Adjuster –A representative of an insurance company whose job it is to settle a claim made under an insurance policy.

Administrator – An individual appointed by the Surrogate Court to wind up the affairs of a deceased person who died without a will.

Administrator ad Prosequendum – An individual appointed by the Surrogate Court to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a person who died as the result of someone else’s negligence.

Appeal – A request that a higher court review the findings of a lower court.

Arbitration – An informal proceeding used to save time and money in an attempt to resolve disputes in place of a trial before a judge or jury.

At Fault Driver – The negligent driver who caused an accident.

Attorney – An individual who has completed four years of undergraduate studies and three additional years of an ABA-approved law school, passed the bar exam, and was found to be fit to practice law by the supreme court of a particular state.

Bodily Injury Liability – Insurance coverage that pays claims to a person for injuries caused by another driver’s negligence.

Carrier – An insurance company.

Certification of Permanency – A sworn statement signed by a physician to be filed with the court stating that the plaintiff suffered an injury that is permanent, and that the body part affected will no longer heal to function normally.

Certified Civil Trial Attorney – A New Jersey attorney who has practiced law for over five years, tried over ten cases, taken and passed a written examination and continuing legal education requirements, and has been certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Civil Trial Attorney after undergoing a thorough background investigation, including references from judges and adversaries.

Civil Action – A lawsuit brought for money damages.

Claim – The assertion of a right; a demand for payment in accordance with an insurance policy or a demand for something as rightful or due to another.

Collision Coverage: Under this type of automobile coverage, your own insurance company will pay for any property damage to your car subject to a deductible. Collision coverage is generally subject to a deductible and may be expensive to purchase.

Comparative Negligence ­– Any negligent act or conduct on the part of the person making a claim that may have contributed to the cause of the accident.

Complaint: The first pleading filed with the clerk of the court by a plaintiff setting forth his or her allegations against a specific person or entity including theories of negligence.

Comprehensive Coverage – covers theft, fire, vandalism, weather damage, riots, missiles, and other similar circumstances which may cause damage to a vehicle. Comprehensive auto insurance does not usually cover acts of God, theft or vandalism by family members or employees, contents of the vehicle, tires, or damage due to improper maintenance.

Contingent Fee – A fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court.

Damages – The physical and financial losses suffered by a plaintiff.

Decedent – A dead or deceased person.

Defendant – The person who is being sued in a lawsuit.

Defense Counsel – The attorneys who are hired to represent a defendant.

Deposition – An out-of-court sworn oral statement of a party or a witness in connection with a lawsuit, which a court reporter is transcribing.

Discovery – A period of time after the filing of a lawsuit during which the parties can investigate facts through interrogatories, depositions, document requests, and subpoenas.

Entire Controversy Doctrine – The legal principle that requires a plaintiff or defendant to bring all claims or defenses as part of any first proceeding. The effect of not bringing all claims at once is to bar any subsequent trials, hearings, or proceedings for any losses or injuries not alleged in the initial proceeding.

ERISA – Benefits paid to an employee as part of a qualified employer-sponsored benefit program under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

Essential Services Coverage – A type of benefit that is part of New Jersey’s personal injury protection (PIP), reimbursing the cost of needed household and domestic help.

Executor – A person named in a will to wind up the affairs of a deceased person and to carry out the directives of the deceased’s last will and testament.

Expert Witness – An individual hired in connection with a lawsuit to provide factual and opinion testimony in connection with a topic outside of the normal knowledge of a juror.

Federal Court – Courts created by an act of Congress to prosecute federal crimes and resolve civil disputes against the federal government, constitutional claims, and disputes between citizens of different states.

Filing – The physical act of delivering to the clerk of a court a pleading or document for the court’s consideration.

Filing Fee – The sum of money required to be paid to the clerk of the court before a document can be accepted by the clerk and deemed to be filed.

First-Party Claim – A claim that is brought against one’s own insurance carrier or against a carrier obligated by law or contract to pay a claim, such as a workers’ compensation or PIP insurance carrier.

Friendly – A special hearing conducted by a judge to determine the fairness of a settlement made for the benefit of a minor.

GAP Insurance – A type of property damage insurance coverage that in the event of a total loss of a vehicle will pay the difference between the vehicle’s actual cash value and the current outstanding balance on any loan or lease.

IME – (“independent medical examination”) Although called independent, such examinations should be properly called a DME or defense medical examination, which is a medical examination at the request of the defense that is usually biased in favor of the defense.Income Continuation Benefits – A New Jersey no-fault insurance benefit available to accident victims regardless of fault to partially compensate for lost wages resulting from an accident.

Infant – A minor; a child under the age of eighteen.

Infant Compromise – A settlement of a personal injury lawsuit for the benefit of a child.

Insurance – A contract in which an individual or entity pays money in advance to another to receive financial protection or reimbursement for unforeseen losses or claims.

Interrogatories – Written questions that are part of the discovery process, to be answered under oath and in writing as required under the New Jersey Rules of Court.

Jury Charge – The instructions given by the judge to a jury prior to deliberations as to what laws to apply during the jury’s deliberations.

Judgment – A decision or order signed by a judge that determines the rights and obligations of the litigants. A jury verdict is enforceable and collectible only after a judge “enters judgment.”

Lawsuit Threshold – Also known as the “verbal threshold” or “limitation on lawsuit threshold,” it is a restriction on the ability to bring a lawsuit for automobile accident-related injuries unless such injuries fall within one of six listed exceptions or are permanent injuries to body parts that will not heal to function normally again, as certified to by a physician.

Lien – An outstanding sum of money that attaches to a case and must be paid out of the final settlement proceeds.

Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold – See definition of lawsuit threshold above.

Loss – The payment of any claim by an insurance company.

Motion – A pleading filed with the court seeking a specified ruling or court order most commonly used to compel opposing counsel to provide discovery.

MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging; a type of imaging machine using magnetic force to produce internal soft tissue images which are interpreted by a radiologist.

NADA – National Automobile Dealers Association is a service used by insurance companies to value used automobiles.Narrative Report – A report prepared by a treating or non-treating doctor who has been hired as an expert witness for a fee, which discusses a person’s injuries, the cause of such injuries, as well as the permanency of those injuries.

Negligence – The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised.

NJAJ – The New Jersey Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America-New Jersey).

No-Fault Insurance – A type of automobile insurance that is compulsory in New Jersey, where policyholders are reimbursed for their medical bills, lost wages, essential services, and death benefits by the policyholder’s own insurance company without proof of fault. In exchange, a policyholder or resident family members may not be permitted to seek recovery through the civil justice system for those damages and may be limited in recovering for their pain and suffering caused by others.

Objective Tests – Objective medical tests such as MRI, X-ray, or CT scans are tests that are not based on the person’s voluntary responses, such as pain. Objective medical tests cannot be faked or exaggerated.

OSHA – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal agency of the United States that regulates workplace safety and health.

Parties – The litigants involved in a lawsuit.

Personal Injury Protection – Known as “PIP” benefits, are insurance benefits payable as part of New Jersey’s no-fault automobile insurance consisting of medical bill payment, income continuation benefits, funeral benefits, and essential services payable regardless of fault.

PIP – See personal injury protection above.

PIP SUIT – A legal proceeding usually in the form of arbitration against an automobile insurance carrier to force them to pay justified no-fault insurance benefits.

Pleading – A formal written statement filed with the court by a party in a civil action, such as a complaint or answer.

PLIGA – The Property Liability Insurance Guarantee Association is a New Jersey State entity that pays claims involving uninsured drivers, insolvent insurance companies, and the medical bills of uninsured pedestrians struck by automobiles.

Premises Liability – An accident that occurred due to the negligence of a landowner or storekeeper.

Preponderance of Evidence – The standard of proof required in a civil trial that proves a fact or event “more likely than not.”

Pro Se – An individual representing him or herself before a court without a lawyer.

Punitive Damages – Damages awarded in addition to actual damages when a defendant acted with malice, recklessness, or gross indifference for life and limb. Punitive damages are meant to punish and set an example to deter others from such harmful conduct.

Property Damage Liability – Insurance coverage that pays for physical damage to another person’s property or motor vehicle that was caused by the policyholder’s negligence.

Retainer Agreement – A written agreement that hires the services of an attorney and sets forth how the attorney will be paid.

Release – A written document that, when signed, discharges a person or entity from any further legal responsibility or liability.

Reserve – The amount of money an insurance company sets aside in anticipation of paying a claim.

Serve – To make legal delivery of a document, pleading, notice, summons, complaint, or subpoena upon another person or entity in the fashion and format as prescribed by the rules of court.

Settlement – An agreement between the parties to end a legal dispute or lawsuit.

Settlement Conference – A conference held before a judge to narrow the differences between the parties in hope of reaching a settlement.

Soft Tissue – Body parts other than bone, such as nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and the brain.

Statute of Limitations – A law that establishes a time limit for suing in a civil case.

Strict Liability – Liability that does not depend upon the actual negligence or intent of another but is based upon a breach of a duty to make something or some situation absolutely safe. Strict liability is commonly found in cases involving products liability, dog bites, and New York’s labor law, which covers injuries arising from scaffold falls and construction site injuries.

Structured Settlement – A tax-free settlement that will be paid in future periodic payments.

Subpoena – A legal document that compels a person or corporation to appear at a designated time and place, for the purpose of giving testimony or producing documents.

Subrogation – A legal right acquired when an insurance carrier that paid a first-party claim is assigned by the injured party the right to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible party to recover the money they paid.

Summation – A lawyer’s closing arguments at the conclusion of a trial.

Summons – A notice requiring a person to appear in court or answer a lawsuit.

Surrogate – A special court established in New Jersey whose jurisdiction includes the probate of wills, appointment of estate administrators, supervision of the appointment of guardians, and administration of adoptions. In the context of personal injury claims, the surrogate will hold a minor’s settlement funds in an interest-bearing account until the minor reaches the age of eighteen.

Survival Action or Survivorship Claim – An action brought by a deceased person’s estate for injuries or damages suffered by them between the time of the accident and the person’s death.

Third-Party Lawsuit – A claim brought against an insurance carrier other than your own. In the context of a workers’ compensation claim, it is a claim brought against anyone other than the injured person’s employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.

Threshold – A minimum standard that must be met before a claim or defense can proceed.

Torts – A civil wrong arising out of a breach of a duty or act of negligence for which an injured party is entitled to an award of damages.

Tort Claims Act – A law that permits a lawsuit against a state, county, municipality, political subdivision, or governmental agency that would ordinarily be immune from a claim for damages.

Tort Claims Notice – The required written notice on a special form that must be filed within ninety days of an act of negligence of or by an employee of the State of New Jersey, a political subdivision, or a governmental agency that caused an injury or harm to another.

Tort Reform – A movement to reduce the amount of tort litigation by passing anti-consumer laws to restrict or take away the right of individuals to access the courts for damages awards.

Trial de Novo – A new trial ordered on the entire case usually resulting from an appeal of an unfavorable arbitration award.

Verbal Threshold – Also known as the “lawsuit threshold” or “limitation on lawsuit threshold,” the verbal threshold is a restriction on the ability to bring a lawsuit for automobile accident-related injuries unless such injuries fall within one of six listed exceptions or are permanent injuries to body parts that will not heal to function normally again, as certified by a physician.

Verdict – The final findings of a jury regarding questions of fact and damages after applying the law as read to them by the judge.

Under Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM) – Insurance coverage that pays for losses and injuries caused by a negligent driver who lacks sufficient insurance coverage to cover the damages.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) – Insurance coverage that pays for losses and injuries caused by a negligent driver who was uninsured at the time of an accident.

Venue – The county having jurisdiction or location of a legal forum where a trial on a particular matter will occur.

Voir Dire – The pretrial interview conducted by the court of potential jurors to evaluate their fairness, fitness, and impartiality prior to being selected as jurors.

Workers’ Compensation – A system for providing benefits to workers who are injured on the job, regardless of fault.

Wrongful Death Claim – A lawsuit on behalf of a deceased person’s survivors for the future economic losses they will suffer, that is brought against the negligent party who caused the death.

Zero Threshold – Having selected no threshold or not being legally subject to a threshold that would act as a legal bar or obstruction to bringing a claim or lawsuit. In the context of an automobile claim, a zero threshold automatically satisfies the verbal or lawsuit threshold.