Woman Holding Book With Personal Injury Law Terms
28 Dec

15 Legal Terms to Know for Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you're unfamiliar with the legal jargon and terminology used in the field. For instance, what’s comparative negligence, and how could this impact my case?

Understanding the key terminology for personal injury claims is one way to stay informed during a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim. If you have any further questions about these terms regarding your case or if you think you have a case, feel free to contact Carrillo Injury Law at the information below.

  1. Arbitration: Arbitration is an example of an alternative dispute resolution where an impartial third party is tasked with deciding whether to award compensatory damages and the amount of damages to be awarded. These proceedings are similar to a trial but are typically less formal and only work for some personal injury cases.
  2. Burden of Proof: In personal injury cases, the burden of proof defines the responsibility of the parties involved in a lawsuit. In such cases, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff, the party who initiated the lawsuit, to establish that the defendant's negligence or wrongful actions were the direct cause of their injuries. This burden requires the plaintiff to provide convincing evidence and demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it is more likely than not that the defendant's actions were responsible for the injuries sustained. If the plaintiff fails to meet this burden, the defendant may be absolved of liability, and the case may be dismissed.
  3. Comparative Negligence: In cases where the plaintiff and defendant share some level of responsibility for the accident or injury, the concept of comparative negligence comes into play. It means that the compensation awarded to the plaintiff may be reduced based on their degree of fault. Comparative negligence is a “variation of contributory negligence in which the comparative degree of negligence for each party to an accident is considered when awarding damages.”
  4. Compensation: Compensation in personal injury cases refers to the financial recovery awarded to an injured party to redress the harm they have suffered due to another person's negligence or wrongful actions. This compensation aims to provide the victim with monetary relief to cover various losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages directly related to the injury.
  5. Contingency Fee: Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Their fee is typically a percentage of the compensation you receive. “Most states, and the ABA Model Rules, prohibit the use of contingency fees in all criminal law cases, most family law cases, and some immigration and contract law cases.”
  6. Damages: Damages are the financial compensation awarded to the injured party in a personal injury case. They can be categorized into two main types: economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, and property damage) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress).
  7. Defendant: The defendant is the person or entity against whom the personal injury lawsuit is filed. It is the party accused of causing the injury through negligence or wrongdoing.
  8. Deposition: A deposition is a formal and recorded statement by a witness or party involved in a personal injury case to disclose the series of events. It is part of the discovery process and can be used as evidence during a trial.
  9. Liability: Liability refers to legal responsibility. Personal injury claims mean determining who is at fault or responsible for the accident or injury. The party found liable is typically responsible for compensating the injured party.
  10. Negligence: Negligence is the legal concept that forms the basis of most personal injury claims. Negligence is the “[a]ction or failure to act outside the realm of what would be considered appropriate by ordinary, reasonably prudent persons.” It involves the failure of a person or entity to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person. To prove negligence, you must establish that the defendant had a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your injuries.
  11. Pre-existing Condition: A pre-existing physical condition is a medical or health issue the injured party had before the accident, injury, or policy issuance occurred. Personal injury claims can become more complicated when pre-existing conditions are involved, as it may be challenging to determine the extent to which the accident worsened the condition.
  12. Plaintiff: The plaintiff is the person who files a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation. In this case, the injured party is the plaintiff.
  13. Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations is a time limit within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. If you fail to file your claim within this period, you may lose your right to seek compensation. The statute of limitations varies by state and the type of injury.
  14. Settlement: A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant, often reached before a lawsuit goes to trial. In a settlement, the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a specified amount of compensation in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit.

Understanding these key terms, whether you're the injured party, a defendant, or a witness, can help in the consultation stage of a case. At Carrillo Injury Law, we help educate our clients and handle all personal injury claims to ensure you receive your legal rights. If you’ve been injured and believe it was due to company or product negligence, contact us today by emailing office@carrilloinjurylaw.com.