Legal Glossary

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BAD FAITH:  In Nevada the parties to a contract owe each other a duty of "good faith and fair dealing."  A breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing gives rise to the tort claim of "bad faith."  The duty of good faith and fair dealing is especially applicable to insurance contracts.  When a person purchases insurance, he or she enters into a contract with an insurance company.  If the insurance company fails to timely process a personal injury claim (or other claims), fails to timely investigate a personal injury claim, fails to make a reasonable offer to settle a personal injury claim when it is apparent that the personal injury claim is proper, denies a personal injury claim without a reasonable basis, or unreasonably exposes its insured to individual liability for a personal injury claim, then the insurance company may have committed the tort of bad faith.  Bad faith may allow the insured to recover for economic losses, general damages of pain, suffering or emotional distress, and punitive damages in certain circumstances.

C-CORPORATION:  In Nevada, a "C Corporation" is what a person might consider the same thing as a regular corporation.  The "C" designation is merely the tax designation given to the corporation by the IRS.  In Nevada, when a person "incorporates" or files Articles of Incorporation with the Nevada Secretary of State, a "corporation" is created which becomes a separate entity and can act, do business and be taxed like an individual.  The IRS will tax the profits of the corporation and then, when the corporation pays dividends to its shareholders, the shareholders will have to pay taxes on those dividends.  This is the standard tax treatment of a corporation by the IRS, and, unless a corporation seeks different tax treatment such as an "S election" (See, S Corporation below), the corporation is considered to be a "C Corporation."  At Mortenson & Rafie we have years of experience dealing with corporate issues.  This experience helps us to serve you not only as your personal injury lawyers, but also as your lawyers for most of the important matters which come up in your personal life and business career.  We are truly your full service law firm.  

CONTINGENCY AGREEMENT:  Often used in a personal injury case or similar matter.  An agreement whereby the attorney waits to be paid upon the occurrence of an event, typically the recovery of money.  Frequently, in a personal injury contingency agreement the attorney will accept a percentage of any money recovered on behalf of the client.  Generally, costs are separate from the percentage that is agreed upon for the attorney contingency fee.

HEALTH INSURANCE SUBROGATION RIGHTS:  Another way to pay for medical bills resulting from a car / auto accident, is to use your own health insurance.  However, your health insurance company very likely has a right to recover from you, any amounts that it paid (with some exceptions), if you are later compensated by the person who caused the accident.  This right is called "subrogation".  For example, you could be injured in an car - auto accident, and go to the emergency room.  If you provide the hospital your health insurance information, your hospital will likely bill your health insurance company (instead of your "Medical Payment Coverage" - see below), who pays $1,000.00.  If you later recover $2,000.00 from the person who caused the accident, your health insurance company will claim $1,000 of the recovery.  One of the benefits of using your Medical Payment Coverage, if you have it, is that your auto insurer does not have a subrogation right to the settlement with the at - fault driver (See "Medical Payments Coverage" below).

MEDICAL LIEN:  Often times, physicians, doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and other medical care professionals will treat our clients without requiring payment until the claim against the at - fault driver (tortfeasor) is resolved.  The medical provider will treat our client on a lien.  This means the medical care provider will often lien the client's claim and not require payment until the personal injury recovery is obtained.

MEDICAL PAYMENT COVERAGE:  Often referred to as Med Pay coverage.  It is an additional coverage which you can purchase through your car / auto insurance carrier.  At Mortenson & Rafie, we have found that clients often have this coverage even when they tell us initially that they do not.  If you are injured in an car / auto accident, and recieve medical treatment for those injuries, your own auto insurance company may pay your medical bills.  If our clients have this type of coverage, we will work to obtain the money from our client's auto insurance company to cover their medical bills.  In Nevada, it is important to make this recovery on behalf of the client since these payments cannot be subrogated.  In other words, the client's insurance company cannot request to be paid back out of the settlement proceeds from the at - fault driver's policy.

NEVADA STATE DISTRICT COURT:  The District Court for the State of Nevada is the state court that hears cases concerning claims that exceed $10,000.00.  All personal injury claims in which we seek more than $10,000.00 for our clients are typically filed in District Court for the State of Nevada.

NEVADA STATE JUSTICE COURT:  Justice Court is the Nevada State Court which hears cases concerning claims of $10,000.00 or less.  Personal injury claims are rarely filed in Justice Court because the maximum that the Justice Court judge can award from damages for personal injury and property damage is $10,000.00.

NEVADA STATE SMALL CLAIMS COURT:  Small Claims Court is a division of the Justice Court which hears cases concerning claims up to $7,500.00.

PERSONAL INJURY:  A personal injury is an injury to one's "person".  A person means your physical body, but it can also extend to emotional and psychological well being.  Almost always a personal injury injures both your physical body and your emotional an psychological well being.  As experienced personal injury attorneys in Las Vegas, Nevada, we strive to obtain compensation for any and all related injuries that our clients suffer.  Personal injury cases can arise from many types of accidents including: vehicle accidents, vehicle malfunction, defective products, auto airbag failure, brake failure, tire defect, product manufacturing defects, product assembly defect, commercial vehicle accidents, rear-end accidents, T-bone accidents, vehicle / pedestrian accidents, vehicle / bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog bites, rollover accidents, aircraft / airplane accidents, boating accidents, watercraft accidents, semi / tractor - trailer accidents, parking stop trip and falls, slips and falls, medical negligence / malpractice, nursing home abuse, hospital negligence / malpractice, etc..

RETAINER AGREEMENT:  Typically used in litigation or transactional matters where the attorney keeps track of time and is billed an hourly rate for the time spent working on the matter.  At Mortenson & Rafie, we maintain funds given as a retainer in a trust account for use in payment of attorneys' fees or costs as they are earned or expended.  Costs are separate from fees and can include anything from filing fees, service fees, deposition fees, expert fees, etc..

TORT:  The term "Tort" is an old common law term that refers to incidences where a person's actions have caused injury or damage to another person which may be recovered in a civil lawsuit.  Perhaps the most common type of tort claim in Las Vegas, Nevada is a personal injury claim (See "Personal Injury" above) in which a person is wrongfully injured in an automobile accident, trip and fall, or medical malpractice, etc..  Generally, a breach of contract claim is NOT considered a tort claim.  In a breach of contract claim a wronged party typically would not be able to recover for pain and suffering type damages.  However, in Nevada and many other U.S. jurisdictions, if an insurance company breaches its contract with an insured, the insurance company may become liable for a special tort known as "Bad Faith," which allows for a claimant to recover general type damages, including pain and suffering and even punitive damages in certain circumstances.  It is important to have a Nevada personal injury attorney who not only understands the law of negligence, but also understands the duties that insurance companies owe to their insureds and how to protect their clients from the bad faith occassionally committed by insurance companies.

TORTFEASOR:  A person or entity who commits a wrongful act which is either intentional or negligent is called a tortfeasor (See, "Tort" above). For example, in an automobile accident, the person who negligently caused the automobile or car accident is called a tortfeasor.  Also, if a hotel knows of a dangerous condition which might result in a slip and fall injury or tripping accident for its patrons yet is negligent in addressing the dangerous condition, the hotel is an example of an entity tortfeasor.

UNDERINSURED / UNINSURED (UM/UIM) MOTORIST COVERAGE:  A specific type of coverage which you can purchase from your car / auto insurance which can cover you for damage when an at - fault driver (tortfeasor) does not have enough coverage, is uninsured or flees the scene of the accident and cannot be found.  Although it is not required, it can be good coverage to have in the event that the tortfeasor is not insured or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.  In Nevada, the minimum liability coverage required is $15,000.  Sometimes this is not enough insurance coverage to sufficiently address your damages.  Often, clients are entitled to compensation for amounts that exceed the insurance limits of the driver that caused the accident.  For example, a client could have medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other damages that warrant compensation of $80,000.00, but the person who caused the accident has only $50,000 of insurance.  One of the ways to obtain full recovery is to collect from our clients own insurance company on the uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage.  If our client has said coverage (which must be offered pursuant to Nevada law), we will work to recover under our client's policy.

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