Common Personal Injury Terms to Know

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When you’re filing a personal injury claim, you may encounter quite a bit of legal jargon. You may wonder what terms such as tort or premises liability mean, and we’re here to clear the air for you. Below you’ll find a short glossary of legal vocabulary you may come across in your journey to secure your due compensation.

Lawsuit Terms

  • Appeal. Asking a higher court to reverse a decision after the final judgment or ruling.
  • Answer. A written plea from the defendant in response to the plaintiff’s complaint in a lawsuit. The response is denial or admittance to the plaintiff’s allegations.
  • Complaint. A document filed by a person claiming legal rights against the accused party.
  • Defendant. The party sued by the plaintiff.
  • Fraud. Conscious dishonesty and deceit in order to deny the other party of their deserved compensation.
  • Judgment. The final decision of a lawsuit made by the court. Also known as a decree.
  • Motion. A formal request made to the judge in regard to the judgment. Examples include postponing judgment or trial or modification of the final judgment.
  • Negotiation. A discussion to reach a settlement or an agreement.
  • Plaintiff. The party who files the lawsuit. They file a complaint seeking compensation for damages incurred from an incident.
  • Prayer. The specific request for judgment, relief, or damages stated at the end of the complaint.
  • Tort. The French word for “wrong,” a tort is a wrongful act, regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental, that leads to harm. Negligence cases are one such example of torts, but torts also may include physical assault, battery, fraud, or wrongful death.
  • Settlement. The act of resolving a lawsuit without going to court. Settlements mostly happen when attorneys among both parties negotiate.
  • Subpoena. An order for a witness to appear in court at a designated time and place to either testify or provide documents relating to the case.
  • Voir Dire. Meaning “to see to speak” in French, voir dire is the questioning of potential jurors in order to eliminate bias.

Personal Injury Case Terms

  • Assumption of Risk. In negligence cases, assumption of risk occurs when someone knowingly acts in an inherently dangerous situation. The defendant can use assumption of risk in defense when the accident is considered so hazardous that the injured plaintiff assumed the risk of injury, knowing there would be danger.
  • Abstract of Title. This is a written report on a title search that reveals the history of every owner of a particular property as well as any claims against said property.
  • Act of God. A natural, unpreventable catastrophe. Examples include earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, or hurricanes.
  • Accident/Police Report. A report generated by the police officer (typically following aid at the car accident). The report contains a summary of information about the collision, such as the time and place of the incident, the damage incurred, and more.
  • Contributory Negligence. If the injured party was found to be neglectful at the time of the incident, then the injured person would not be entitled to any compensation from the defendant who supposedly caused the accident. For instance, a drunk driver may have caused the accident, but if the plaintiff was also driving recklessly, the plaintiff would not be entitled to any compensation.
  • Compensation. This is the amount paid to make the life of another better (at best to make one whole) after injury or loss. Usually, this is paid by the insurance company from either party.
  • Damages. The amount of money awarded to the plaintiff in a lawsuit. In terms of personal injury, damages include medical and hospital bills, loss of wages, property repair, crippling effects, pain and suffering, physical therapy, psychological therapy, and more.
  • Exemplary Damages. Otherwise known as punitive damages, these are damages that are requested or awarded when the defendant maliciously, fraudulently, grossly recklessly, or violently acted against the plaintiff.
  • Injury. Harm done to a person via the actions or inaction of another. This may include physical (bodily) harm as well as damage to one’s reputation or loss of a legal right.
  • Loss. The injury’s value from an accident caused by another’s negligence or any wrongful action.
  • Malpractice. The action caused by a professional that doesn’t meet the safety and competence standards that can lead to provable damages. These actions can be caused by negligence, ignorance, or any other wrongful action.
  • Negligence. The failure to reasonably consider the safety of others. Negligence is considered accidental rather than intentional.
  • No-Fault Insurance. A type of insurance required in 19 states (Florida included) in which anyone involved in the accident is paid basic damages by the company that insured the vehicle. The insurance payout is only limited to medical and rehabilitation bills, lost wages, and any other necessary expenses.
  • Party. People who are involved in the lawsuit or claims. Parties include the plaintiff, the defendant, petitioner, respondent, cross-complainant, and/or cross-defendant.
  • Premises Liability. A legal term in personal injury cases that is claimed when one is injured on someone else’s property.
  • Proximate Cause. In personal injury cases, the event that causes the particular injury, either by negligence or malicious action.
  • Statute of Limitations. A law that dictates the maximum amount of time one has to file a lawsuit, depending on the claim. If the time to file the lawsuit expires, then the filer no longer has the right to sue and the claim is considered dead.
  • Strict Liability. Automatic responsibility for damages because of possession or use of equipment deemed inherently dangerous (wild animals, assault weapons, and woodworking equipment).
  • Wrongful Death. The death of a person resulting from another’s wrongdoing. Wrongful actions include negligence, intentional attacking, or violent crime.

If there are any additional terms you’re interested in learning about or would like to know any more about the above terms, you should consult your personal injury attorney for more information.