Every type of law and legal matter may seem complex and incomprehensible to the average person, after all attorneys spend years studying the law before they take the bar exam. However, personal injury law is one of the simpler types of law to understand because it is one of the most straightforward. Basically, a personal injury occurs when someone suffers an accident that was caused by the negligent behaviour of another party. When someone gets hurt as a result of a personal injury, they have the right to get compensation for any expenses caused by the accident. That can include medical bills, repair bills, and lost wages.
Even though personal injury law is easy to understand, the legal terms associated with it may not be. That is why this article is here, to help you understand some of the legal terminology that you may hear if you are ever involved in a personal injury case. If you do experience a personal injury, then make sure that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. They will help you to understand any legal terms and give you the best chance of receiving the compensation that you need.
Personal Injury Terms From A to (not quite) Z
Abstract of Title – This is a chronological summation of all the legal records and documents related to a piece of real property.
Accident Report – This is a formal record documenting the incident that caused the personal injury. It is usually written by an authority figure like a police officer or a staff member of a hospital or medical facility.
Ad Litem – A term referring to someone who is appointed to act on behalf of someone who is not capable of representing themselves such as a child or an adult who has been deemed incapable of representing themself.
Arbitration – When both parties involved in the personal injury case reach a resolution via the involvement of a neutral third party.
Assumption of Risk – The deliberate act of proceeding with a risk despite knowing the danger involved. Any individual who assumed the risk before an accident will not be able to acquire any monetary compensation.
Bad Faith – A claim filed by a person to their insurance company because the company denied or delayed their insurance claim.
Bodily Injury – Any harm suffered by a person. This can range from external injuries like lacerations, bruises, or burns, to internal injuries like nerve damage or a concussion.
Burden of Proof – This is the obligation of one party to show that their claim is true, accurate, and factual. In a personal injury case, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff.
Claim – This is a civil action related to the mental or physical harm done to the plaintiff. A claim can be filed by the plaintiff or on their behalf by someone else. A claim is also a request to the insurance company asking for coverage and payment for the injuries suffered by the claimant.
Comparative Negligence – This is when the plaintiff’s contribution to the accident is compared to the defendant’s contribution to the accident. This can affect the amount of compensation received by the plaintiff.
Compensation – Something—usually money—that makes up for the losses suffered by an individual.
Contingency Fee – The fee that an attorney receives as payment only if the case is won. The fee is usually a percentage of the compensation received by the plaintiff and is negotiated upfront.
Damages – These are payments that are awarded after a civil case. Compensatory damages are meant to cover financial losses while punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant in an effort to prevent them from engaging in misbehaviour in the future.
Defendant – The person who is being sued.
Duty of Care – A basic requirement that a person behaves in a reasonable, cautious, and lawful manner to everyone else. An example is a driver diligently following the rules of the road and paying attention while they are driving. A breach or violation of the duty of care is called negligence and occurs when someone behaves in an unreasonable, unlawful, or reckless manner.
Judgement – The final decision in a court case that resolves the legal dispute and ends the lawsuit.
Liability – The legal responsibility for an individual’s acts. Also an obligation one is bound by law to perform, which typically involves the payment of monetary damages.
Litigation – The process of filing a lawsuit or taking some other form of legal action.
Mediation – An attempt to resolve the case with the help of a neutral third party.
Negligence – This is when a person violates their duty of care and ends up causing an injury to another.
Plaintiff – The person who is filing a lawsuit against the party responsible for their personal injury.
Settlement – An agreement reached between both parties in the lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations – The period of time in which a person has to file a lawsuit. It varies from state to state and is based on the type of case being prosecuted.
Your Attorney Can Help You With the Various Legal Terms
There are far more personal injury terms besides the ones listed, but these are some of the more common ones. You do not need to know all of them beforehand but knowledge of them can be helpful when you are dealing with your attorney. That is because it can make meetings go much faster when you already know some of the legal terms involved. However, whether you know them or not, your attorney will explain them to you when you ask. That is one of the reasons why an attorney is so important in a personal injury case.