Legal Terms for Personal Injury Cases in Buffalo, New York: Letters P - Z

Personal Injury

Personal injury law focuses on cases where someone is injured due to the negligent or reckless acts of another. There are many different types of personal injury cases. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. has handled cases for:

  1. Car accidents;
  2. Truck accidents;
  3. Construction accidents;
  4. Pedestrian accidents;
  5. Slip and falls;
  6. Food poisoning;
  7. Lifeguard negligence;
  8. Dog bites; and
  9. Other injuries where someone was injured and it was not their fault.

Example: Our client came to our firm after he was poisoned by contaminated food. Our Buffalo, New York personal injury lawyers were able to fight for compensation for his lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering.

Pre-Trial Conference (PTC)

A Pre-Trial Conference in a personal injury case is a meeting with a judge, a judge’s lawyer assistant or a magistrate and the lawyers for the defendant and the lawyers for the plaintiff. A Pre-Trial Conference can be requested by either attorney or by the Court. The following matters may be covered:

  1. Setting up a scheduling order to accomplish the depositions and other discovery matters;
  2. Eliminating outlandish defenses;
  3. Identifying witnesses;
  4. Discussing possible settlement; and
  5. Setting dates for further conferences.

Example: We requested a Pre-Trial Conference to schedule a deposition in a specific case. At the conference, we scheduled an examination of the plaintiff and obtained a trial date.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages punish a defendant for gross negligence or reckless conduct. Typically, punitive damages act as a deterrent for the behavior that caused the injuries in the lawsuit. Punitive damages go beyond compensation for:

  1. Lost wages;
  2. Medical bills;
  3. Loss of enjoyment of life;
  4. Pain and suffering; and
  5. Property damage.

Example: A defendant was driving while intoxicated. That defendant hit our client from the rear at a red light. The jury provided compensation for the plaintiff’s lost wages, pain and suffering and medical bills. The jury also provided compensation in the form of punitive damages to punish the defendant for driving while intoxicated.


At the end of a lawsuit, if you have accepted an insurance settlement offer, you are required to sign a liability insurance release form. This release states that you are releasing the negligent defendant and his or her insurance carrier from having to pay any additional money in the event that you later discover you have further damages related to your accident.

Typically, this release needs to be executed prior to the check being issued.

Example: Our client accepted a settlement offer of $750,000.00 following a bicycle accident. Prior to the client obtaining his settlement check, he had to execute a release stating that the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company would not be liable for any other costs.

Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI)

In New York, personal injury cases are not assigned to a judge until one party in an action files a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) and pays a filing fee.

Example: Our attorneys submitted a Request for Judicial Intervention in a case where the plaintiff was sexually assaulted. We requested that there be a Pre-Trial Conference. One week after, we received a notice that a particular judge was assigned to handle the claim.

Serious Injury Threshold

New York State mandates that in order for a plaintiff to receive compensation above No-Fault benefits, one must prove that a “Serious Injury” as defined by Article 51 of the Insurance Law occurred. A “Serious Injury” is defined as follows:

  1. Death;
  2. Dismemberment;
  3. Significant disfigurement;
  4. Fracture;
  5. Loss of fetus
  6. Permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function or system;
  7. Permanent limitation of a body organ or body system;
  8. Significant limitation of the use of a body function or system; and
  9. A medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured party from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety (90) days during the one hundred and eighty days (180) immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

Example: Our client was in his car at a red light. He was rear-ended by another car and suffered a broken leg. Because his injury satisfied the “Serious Injury” threshold in the form of a fracture, or broken bone, we were able to pursue the case.

Even if you believe that your injuries do not qualify under the New York State Serious Injury threshold, it is imperative that you call the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. now at 716-839-3939. Only an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can review your case and determine if a claim can be pursued.

Statute of Limitations

In New York State, there are certain periods of time in which you are allowed to sue a personal injury case. The statute of limitations outlines how long after a certain event you have to start your case. Importantly, there are shorter time limits to sue municipalities.



  1. Car accidents must generally be sued within 3 years from the date of an accident;
  2. Product liability injury claims must generally be filed within 3 years from the date of the accident;
  3. Slip and fall injury claims must generally be sued within 3 years from the date of an accident;
  4. Medical malpractice claims must generally be made within 2 years and 6 months from the date of the malpractice; and
  5. Other injuries resulting from negligent behavior must generally be sued within 3 years from the date of an accident.
Summary Judgment

Summary Judgment is a legal proceeding where the judge typically decides to determine issues that are obvious and not to be provided to a jury for a decision.

Example: Our client was involved in a car accident where the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff’s SUV. We filed a motion for a partial summary judgment. The judge concluded that the defendant was presumably negligent for striking the back of our client’s vehicle. The judge ruled that after reviewing the presented evidence, it was obvious that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Summons and Complaint

At the beginning of a legal action, a Summons is sent to the defendant notifying them of the commencement of a lawsuit. It demands that the defendant answer the Complaint that typically accompanies the Summons.

The Complaint is a written document outlining the reasons for filing the lawsuit. It alleges exactly what brought about the lawsuit and the damages that the plaintiff is seeking compensation for.

Example: Our client initiated a lawsuit against the owner of a dog who bit her. Her Complaint outlined that the dog was known to be vicious and that the dog bite caused an injury.

Supplemental Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Insurance (SUM)

Supplemental Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist (SUM) Insurance is a type of automobile insurance coverage that protects you if you were hurt by a driver who is underinsured or uninsured. This type of coverage is mandatory in the State of New York.

If the person who hit you is uninsured, or you were involved in a hit-and-run, your SUM policy would be used. If the person who hit you is underinsured, meaning their liability insurance policy is too small to pay for all of the injuries, then your SUM coverage could provide extra compensation to you.

Example: Our client was involved in a car accident. The driver that caused the accident had a liability insurance policy with the state minimum limits of $25,000 in coverage. Our client had a SUM policy of $300,000. After exhausting the other driver’s policy, our client had $275,000 available to compensate his injuries.


A tort is a “civil wrong” that causes harm to another person. The types of torts that the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. deals with are:

  1. Negligence;
  2. Premises liability; and
  3. Product liability.

Example: Our client was involved in a trip and fall at the grocery store. The defendant, the owner of the grocery store, committed a tort by negligently maintaining the floors that caused our client to fall. Therefore, we were able to sue the grocery store to compensate the plaintiff for his medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Umbrella and Excess Insurance Umbrella

Umbrella and Excess insurance is extra liability insurance above a basic policy of insurance. It is meant to protect against tragic, unforeseeable events that cause significant damage or substantial bodily injury. These insurance policies typically have much higher policy limits.

Example: The defendant's liability insurance policy only covered $500,000 in damages. Our client’s injuries resulted in a settlement of $1,500,000. The additional $1,000,000 was from the excess liability insurance coverage the defendant had.

For more Legal Terms for Personal Injury Cases in Buffalo, New York, click here.

Call the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. immediately at 716-839-3939 so that our aggressive, tenacious and hardworking personal injury lawyers can fight to obtain the best result for your personal injury claim in Buffalo, New York. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and there is never a fee until we WIN for you!

Client Reviews
I am a medical doctor and have worked with many of the best lawyers in Buffalo and I can say without question that Jed Dietrich is the only lawyer I would trust with my injury case in Buffalo New York. B.O.
Dogged, Determined, and Dead-set on getting you the Maximum settlement for your injuries! T.F.
No one will work harder, smarter or better; I have retained Jed and he obtained the best result for my case. D.P.
The definition of an "A" type personality-exactly who I would want to represent me in a serious personal injury case. E.S.
Jed is a Master in the courtroom without an equal. S.C.
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