Definitions of Legal Terms and Procedures
An insurance adjuster is a person who, for a fee or commission,
as an employee for an Insurance company or as an independent contractor,
reports on or investigates insurance claims on behalf solely of either
the insured or insurer. (48.17.050)
An agent is any person appointed by an insurer to solicit applications
for insurance on its behalf, and (if authorized to do so) to collect premiums
on insurance so applied for or effectuated. (48.17.010)
For the purposes of personal injury cases (as opposed to divorce attorneys,
probate attorneys, tax attorneys, etc.), attorneys come in two types:
the plaintiffs' personal injury attorney (PI attorney/ plaintiff's attorney),
and the insurance defense attorney (defense attorney). Personal injury
attorneys are paid by their clients out of the proceeds collected on their
behalf via Jury verdicts, arbitration awards, and/or settlements. These
fees are specified by the contingent fee agreement that the client and
attorney signed when the case was begun. Insurance defense attorneys are
paid by insurance companies to represent the companies' "insured," the
negligent persons who have insurance policies and who are being sued as
the defendants in personal injury lawsuits. These defense attorneys technically
represent the defendants, but are actually being paid by the defendants'
Other attorneys may also become temporarily involved in personal injury
cases as neutral parties such as arbitrators or mediators.
The carelessness of an injured person that contributes to an accident;
the injured person's right to compensation is reduced by the percentage
of his or her comparative negligence.
Contingent Fee Agreement:
When an injured person hires a personal injury attorney to represent
them in a personal injury claim or a lawsuit, they both sign a contingent
fee agreement. This document is essentially the employment contract for
the attorney and should lay out in detail all of the terms of that employment.
"Contingent fee" refers to the fact that personal injury attorneys in
California are almost always hired on the basis that they will only receive
a fee from the client contingent upon the client receiving money
from the person(s) causing their injuries. The amount of the attorney's
fee is completely open to negotiation with the client, although law regulates
certain fee agreements.
The contingent fee agreement should also lay out such details as who
is responsible for the costs of the case and how any money collected
for the client is to be distributed. Most personal injury attorneys
will advance the case costs to the client and will be reimbursed for
these costs out of the proceeds of the case. Case costs include such
things as court fees, charges for acquiring copies of the client's relevant
medical records, witness fees and expert witness fees, deposition fees,
Because of efficiencies of operation, the Law Offices on this web site
are able to offer discounted rates on personal injury cases taken in
via our Web site if the client is willing to communicate with us through
the case via e-mail.
How Insurance companies decide how much to pay in damages?
Insurance companies consider the actual monetary costs that you
are facing. These costs may include medical bills and lost wages. Insurance
companies also consider your pain and suffering and whether you have
become disabled or disfigured.
If I am partially responsible for an accident, can I still make
Under comparative negligence, you can recover a portion of your
damages if you were partially at fault. For example, if you were 40%
at fault, then you would recover 60% of your damages.
What is defamation?
The law of defamation protects people against harm to their reputations.
For a statement to be defamatory, it must be a false statement, not
just someone's opinion. For example, suppose that Lee told Mary something
false about Beth that caused Mary to have a lesser opinion of Beth.
Beth may have a defamation claim against Lee.
What are some defenses to a defamation claim?
Defamation claim. Another defense to a defamation claim is consent.
If Ruth gives Alex permission to make certain statements about her,
Ruth cannot sue Alex for defamation based on those statements. In addition,
some statements may be "privileged" and therefore cannot be the basis
for a defamation claim. For example, statements made by a witness in
a courtroom cannot be the basis for a defamation claim as long as they
were relevant to the case.
Defamation: libel vs. slander
What is the difference between libel and slander?
There are two types of defamation: libel and slander. The term "libel"
refers to written statements or some other sort of tangible materials
that are defamatory. For example, someone whose reputation is harmed
by a false newspaper article may be able to sue the newspaper for libel.
The term "slander" refers to spoken statements that are defamatory.
Duty of care:
The legal obligation to be careful in conduct or care of property so that
people are not injured by our actions or our failure to act.
The monetary losses that an insured would suffer.
“Restoring “ the insured’s to the approximate economic position after
suffering a loss “without profiting”
Injured at work?
If you are injured at work, you may be entitled to workers' compensation.
In most states, under workers' compensation an employee who suffers a
work-related injury may receive money for medical expenses and disability
pay without having to sue the employer and without having to prove that
the employer was negligent.
Injured at a neighbor's home?
Whether the neighbor will be liable for your injuries depends on why
you are at the neighbor's home. If you were a social guest at your neighbor's
house (a "licensee"), your neighbor would be liable only if he or she
did not protect you from a known danger. If you were at your neighbor's
house without permission (a "trespasser"), your neighbor would probably
not be held responsible.
Injured on a bus, airplane or train?
Companies that operate a bus, airplane or train ("common carriers")
owe their passengers a high degree of care. Whether you can recover
for injuries that occurred while you were a passenger depends on the
circumstances surrounding the accident. For example, if a bus slid off
the road during a blizzard, a jury may decide that the bus company is
not liable, if the driver acted reasonably under the circumstances.
Injuries that occur in my home or on my property?
Whether you are liable for injuries that occur to someone in your home
or on your property depends on why that person was on your land. If
the person was a customer (a "business invitee"), you may be liable
if you did not act reasonably to protect him or her, even if you did
not know about the danger.
If instead the person were a social guest or a door-to-door salesperson
(a "licensee"), you would probably be liable only if you did not protect
that person from a danger that you knew existed. And, if the person
was on your property without your permission (a "trespasser"), you would
probably not be held responsible because you generally do not owe a
duty of care to a trespasser.
Injured by a dog Bite?
The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is
in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including
the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages
as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness
of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. Any dog that
aggressively attacks and causes severe injury or death of any human
shall be immediately confiscated by an animal control authority, placed
in quarantine for the proper length of time, and thereafter destroyed
in an expeditious and humane manner.
Insurance is a risk transfer vehicle. If a party faces the possibility
of a financial loss, he or she could transfer this risk to an insurance
company by purchasing insurance. By paying a premium (a certain loss),
you are transferring the large risk (uncertain loss) to the insurance
company. Insurance is often called an indemnity contract.
Insurer means any insurance company licensed to write property insurance
business, including the property insurance components of multi-peril policies,
on a direct basis in Washington.
Legal responsibility for an accident; a person who is liable must
pay for injuries caused in the accident.
Liability issues on backyard swimming pools:
Backyard swimming pools present special liability issues. Many
states have adopted the "attractive nuisance" doctrine. Under this doctrine,
a landowner who maintains a potentially dangerous man-made object (such
as a swimming pool) must take reasonable steps to protect children who
may come into contact with the object.
Anyone who owns a backyard swimming pool should make sure that an adult
is always present when children are swimming and should also warn the
children to never swim without an adult. There may also be state or
city laws that apply to backyard swimming pools. For example, a state
law may require a certain height fence around the pool.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is negligent behavior by a doctor or other health
care provider. A doctor's behavior is negligent if a doctor's failure
to follow accepted professional standards of care causes harm to a patient.
The fact that medical treatment was unsuccessful does not necessarily
mean that the doctor was negligent. Instead, the question of whether
the doctor was negligent depends on whether the doctor acted with the
skill of a "reasonable doctor."
Can I make a claim against a doctor even if I signed a consent form?
Hospitals typically require patients to sign forms giving their
consent to medical treatment. Even if you signed a consent form, you
may still be able to make a claim against a doctor. For example, if
your doctor did not follow proper procedures when performing an operation
and you were harmed as a result, you would be able to make a malpractice
claim even if you had signed a consent form.
The carelessness that causes, or contributes to, an accident.
What is the basis for personal injury law?
Personal injury law is based on negligence, strict liability, or
intentional misconduct theories. Under a negligence theory, the question
is whether the defendant failed to use ordinary care in the circumstances
that led to the injury. Under strict liability, a manufacturer or designer
may be liable for injuries caused by a defective product if that product
was unreasonably dangerous, even though the manufacturer or designer
used reasonable care in making or designing the product. Intentional
misconduct includes battery (harmful or offensive contact), false imprisonment
(wrongful detention), and intentional infliction of emotional distress
(outrageous behavior resulting in severe emotional distress).
Personal Injury Protection (PIP):
Personal Injury Protection pays benefit for loss and expense for
bodily injuries caused by an accident arising out of the ownership or
use of a private passenger automobile, (but not a motorcycle). Befits
are payable to or on behalf of an insured, regardless of whether the
insured was to blame for the accident or not.
What is strict product liability?
Under the doctrine of strict product liability, a company that manufactures,
designs, or sells a product may be legally responsible for injuries
caused by the product. The injured person does not need to prove that
the company acted unreasonably in order to succeed with a strict product
liability claim. Instead, the injured person simply needs to show that
the product was defective.
What should you do if a product injures you? If you are injured by
a product, you should keep as much of the remaining product as possible.
You should take pictures of your injuries and of the location where
the injury occurred. In addition, you should keep all receipts and instructions
that relate to the product. Finally, as soon after the injury as possible,
you should write down everything that you remember about the accident,
including names of witnesses and health care providers. You may then
wish to consult an attorney for an evaluation of your claim.
Aspects in life that are deemed an uncertainty and Pure risk- “Chance
of loss” only. No opportunity for gain.
If the insurance company pays for the damaged property in full, it gains
the rights of ownership to that property (salvage rights). You can’t force
the insurance company to salvage your car. It is called abandonment.
Whenever an insurance company pays for a claim that was not caused by
its' insured, it has the right to sue or demand the responsible party
(3rd party) to obtain its' cost back.
You can add a UM (uninsured motorist)/ UIM (underinsured motorist) coverage
to your existing minimum state required liability policy in order to protect
yourself and your passengers in an event of an accident caused by an uninsured
motorist. The UM/UIM portion of your coverage then acts as if the other
party had coverage, limited to the amount of coverage you have purchased.
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