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7 Common Terms Used in Auto Accident Claims

terms used in auto accident claims

Going through an event like a car crash is often confusing, disturbing and may even be traumatic. After that, you need to go to doctors and mechanics, find a good St. Louis car accident lawyer and prepare for the personal injury lawsuit that you expect will pay for your unexpected expenses. If you find yourself in this situation for the first time, you will probably be a bit confused about the terms used by the lawyers and the insurance company to describe your case.

Here are seven of the most common car accident expressions and words that you might encounter as a car accident victim. Knowing them will help you understand your situation and react accordingly.


This term refers to the amount of money you are trying to get from the driver at fault (through his insurance company, most of the time) to pay for your bills (doctors, car damage, medication, lost working hours, etc.). It’s called a “settlement” because it’s a payment outside of the formal legal process, and you can negotiate it with the defendant.


Another term you should get familiar with from the very beginning shows who is responsible for the losses suffered by the plaintiff. This is established through evidence like witness accounts, hard evidence collected by the police, vehicle damage, injuries evaluated by doctors, etc.

Joint Fault

Joint fault means that both the defendant and the plaintiff were responsible for the accident in a certain proportion. Depending on the state, one of the two scenarios will happen: it falls under the doctrine of “comparative negligence” – you will get a settlement that is directly proportional to the plaintiff’s degree of fault, or it falls under the “contributory negligence” when you don’t get anything if you have some kind of fault in the accident. Missouri is a comparative negligence state.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

When it comes to the damage suffered by your property, ACV will be mentioned, and it refers to how much your car is worth on the market before the accident.


Since this concept is crucial for the outcome of your lawsuit, we will explain it briefly: negligence refers to any actions (or lack of necessary actions) that go against what is considered “careful and cautious” driving. Negligence per se refers to actually breaking a traffic law.

Medical Lien

This is the amount of money that will be taken from the final settlement amount to pay any doctor bills you had so far due to the injuries you suffered in the car accident.


This is what lawyers and insurance companies call the period of time necessary for them to gather evidence for the case.

There are many other specific terms that are used in car accident claims, so if you ever feel like you don’t understand the process completely, don’t hesitate to reach out to your St. Louis car accident lawyer.

Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer

Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!

Free Consultation (314) 361-4242
Updated: December 18, 2019