Although definitions vary widely, many Florida personal attorneys use terms such as “low-ball offers,” “fair settlements,” and other specialized language. A good Florida personal injury attorney will take care to explain pertinent terms to you. For example, the attorneys at Flaxman Law Group take pride in making even the most complex legal terms easy to understand. In any personal injury case, you may encounter a few new terms:
1) Low-ball offer. Although precise definitions of this term vary, a low-ball offer usually refers to a claim made by an insurance company or another party which is deemed too low. In many cases, a low-ball offer is low because it will not adequately cover all the costs, lost income, medical care, and other expenses in a typical case. It is quite frequent for parties to offer injured persons a low-ball offer, which is why it is important to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney before accepting any offer.
2) Liability. Liability refers to legal responsibility, and is used to determine who (if anyone) must pay damages to an injury victim. In many cases, there are multiple persons who can be held partly responsible in a personal injury case. For example, in a truck accident, a driver can be held liable for the accident. However, the manufacturer of the truck, the trucking company, and even the company that repairs the roads may be partly liable for an accident. In a personal injury case, it is important to seek out everyone who may be liable, as this can help ensure a fair settlement for the accident victim.
3) Plaintiff. The plaintiff is the party who launches a legal case. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is usually the accident or injury victim. In most personal injury cases, an insurance company or larger company is the defendant, or the party answering the charges or claims made by the plaintiff.
4) Out-of-court settlement. Many personal injury cases end in an out-of-court settlement, which means that a defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a settlement rather than risk going to court with the case (where the plaintiff may be awarded an even larger settlement by a judge). In addition to an out-of-court settlement, personal injury cases can also go to court, where a judge can rule in favor of the plaintiff or against them. In some cases, a plaintiff decides to drop a case.
5) Contingency basis. Many accident victims who have been injured in a car accident or other serious mishap do not have the financial resources to take on a large insurance company or larger firm. However, most companies are covered by powerful insurance providers who have virtually unlimited financial resources. This can create an inequality, which is why many Florida personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning that they are paid out of the settlement proceeds. When attorneys work on a contingency basis, they take on all the risk of a case. They are only paid if and when a plaintiff wins a settlement. If the case is lost or dropped, attorneys will not charge the client legal fees.