Throughout this book, I will mention certain legal references. If you are new to the Personal Injury Law or the PI Field, this basic legal reference will be your basic guide on fundamental knowledge of Law, which pertains to Personal Injury and New York State Civil Procedures. I will try to make it sound as simple as possible so that even attorneys could understand.
Article 51 of the New York Insurance Law §5102(d) – New York State Serious Injury Law (Threshold Law):
Article 51 of the New York State Serious Injury Law or Threshold Law is the fundamental basis on whether you are seriously injured or not according to the New York State. In order for you to be possibly compensated for your pain and suffering, you must meet the law’s specific criteria(s). In other words, Pierce Threshold.
Plaintiff(s): Person or group of people who are suing the party or parties that is/are possibly at fault or negligent. Plaintiff(s) Sue the Defendant(s).
Defendant(s): Person or Group of people being sued who was possibly at fault for the accident.
Liability: Being responsible according to the law. Liability is determined by percentage. If you are half at fault, you are 50% at fault. If you are fully at fault, you are 100% at fault. In some cases, you can even be 1% at fault.
Tort: In Russian, this word means Cake. In English, it means a wrongful act that will lead to civil legal liability.
Tortfeasor: A legal definition is a person who commits a tort. For our purposes, it’s a person who is allegedly at fault.
VTL (Vehicle Traffic Laws): Specific Laws for moving Vehicles.
IME (Independent Medical Examination): IME’s are medical exams arranged by insurance companies with 3rd Party or “neutral” doctors. I’m putting the word “neutral” into quotes because regardless of how neutral they claim they are, they really aren’t. They are paid by insurance companies just for the sake of trying to prove that you aren’t injured, regardless of whether you are or aren’t.
Insurance Claim: Formal request of payment for damages from an insurance company by the “injured” party. The damages range from No-Fault (Medical Bills, etc.) to Injuries.
No-Fault: Pays for Medical Bills, lost wages, and things such as specialized equipment for therapy. In most cases, attorneys charge a separate fee to manage the NF claim because, essentially, it’s a completely separate practice of law.
PD or Property Damage Claim: Pays for any Property Damages. The negligent party’s insurance carrier would pay for whatever it is that they break—whether it’s your car or your phone.
Bodily Injury Claim (BI Claim): This is the claim where the client actually gets paid for the pain and suffering, assuming they pierce the Serious Injury Threshold Laws.
WC (Workers Compensation): Type of claim that is similar to No-Fault but only applies to claimants who were injured on the job. Completely separate legal practice, and in most cases, the plaintiff has to get a separate attorney just to handle their WC Claim.
UM (Un-Insured) Claim: In the event that the Defendant or Tortfeasor doesn’t have any valid insurance, un- known insurance, the host vehicle (Vehicle you are in), or your own policy would cover you for Pain and Suffering.
UIM (Under-Insured) Claim: In the event that the defendant policy limits are lower than what the damages (injuries) are and your policy limits are higher than the BI limits, you can basically get more money from the host vehicle or your own policy.
Example: Let’s assume you have multiple broken bones, and the person who is at fault has only $25,000 policy limits. The value of the case is much higher. Once you collect the full policy, you may open up a UIM claim against the host vehicle or your own policy. However, the UIM must be higher than the BI limits, and there is an offset. Let’s also assume your UIM Limits are $50,000 and you already collected $25,000 for pain and suffering. Because you already collected $25,000, you can only collect another $25,000.
Settlement: Agreement between two parties for compensation. For the purpose of Personal Injury, the defendant’s insurance carrier agrees to offer a certain amount to close the case.
Pleadings: Pleadings are basically court documents. They are exchanged between defendants and plaintiffs and with the court. Basically, either exchanging information/discovery or demanding something.
Litigation: The act of proceeding with a case through the court system.
Paralegal: A legal professional which attorneys hire in order to make decisions for them due to their extensive experience in legal practice. At least, that is how I see it.
S&C (Summons and Verified Complaint): A summons is a complaint filed by the Plaintiff that requires the defendant to answer the allegations.
Verified Answer to Complaint (Answer): In New York State, a defendant must submit an Answer in writing to the Summons and Verified Complaint to the Plaintiff within 30 days or the Plaintiff, in theory, can file a Judgment.
BP’s or BOP’s (Bill of Particulars): BP’s are a huge package of facts. They include police reports, ambulance reports, medical records, and any other evidence that pertains to the case.
RJI (Request for Judicial Intervention): In New York State Supreme Court, a Judge is not assigned to a case until the Plaintiff or the Defendant files for RJI.
eCourts: New York State Supreme Courts online database for cases that are in Litigation. You can basically see who filed what and any past or upcoming court dates.
Note: In New York State, you can not see a case on eCourts unless an RJI has been filed.