If you are in the midst of a personal injury lawsuit, or are about to embark on one, chances are you will encounter a lot of legal jargon throughout the process, much of which you will likely be unfamiliar with. While no two cases are exactly alike, and some terms are more common in some cases than in others, it is still helpful to have a general knowledge of them, so you are better able to understand your own case.
Here are some of the most common personal injury claim terms that you may come across:
- Plaintiff: This is the term you will become most familiar with. It is used to refer to the party or group of parties filing a lawsuit. For example, if you were injured in a grocery store after slipping and falling, and choose to sue, you would be the plaintiff in this scenario.
- Complaint: When a plaintiff initiates a lawsuit, he or she must file a complaint with the appropriate court. The complaint is essentially the plaintiff’s expression of grievances.
- Defendant: When the plaintiff files a complaint, it is served upon the defendant, which is the party that is allegedly liable for the plaintiff’s grievances detailed in the complaint.
- Contingency Fee: Instead of charging an hourly rate or a fixed fee, a contingency fee is a percentage of compensation awarded to the plaintiff. If your attorney does not win your case, however, you will not owe any legal fees.
- Damages: In personal injury lawsuits, a plaintiff is seeking to recover compensation for damages. Damages are separated into two categories – economic and non-economic. Economic damages are quantifiable, such as medical expenses and wage losses. Non-economic damages refer to pain, suffering, and humiliation.
- Deposition: This refers to oral testimony that is taken under oath. One party can present questions to the other party, or to any relevant witnesses.
- Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties are able to gather facts and information about the other party to build and strengthen their case. This investigation occurs prior to the trial.
- Medical Malpractice: When a healthcare provider acts negligently, resulting in harm or death to a patient, this is known as medical malpractice.
- Motion: When one party requests a judge’s ruling on an issue, which both the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on.
- Negligence: This refers to a tort that arises from either carelessness or a failure to act with reasonable care, which results in injuries to another person. For the plaintiff to prove that an at-fault party acted negligently, four elements must be proven – duty or obligation, breach of duty, a relationship between the breach and the damages sustained, and proof that damages exist.
- Personal Injury: Refers to the injury of an individual’s mind, body, reputation, or emotions. It does not include to damage done to property.
- Product Liability: Product liability is an area of personal injury law that focuses on either dangerous or defective products, which result in injuries or death to an individual. In such cases, the manufacturer may be held legally responsible for such damages.
- Settlement Mediation: Not all cases are destined to go to court. Settlement mediation is a dispute resolution method that is intended to help both parties reach a settlement to avoid a trial. A neutral third party mediator meets with both the plaintiff and the defendant to reach a settlement both sides can agree upon.
- Statute of Limitations: The timeframe during which a plaintiff must file a lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the statute of limitations may be extended.
- Tort: This refers to any wrongful act that is not a crime and is not related to a contract. Negligence, wrongful death, civil assault and battery, are all examples of torts.
- Wrongful Death: When a person’s death is caused by the negligence of another individual. This type of lawsuit is usually filed by the decedent’s family or beneficiaries. Each state has its own laws, which dictate who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Worcester Personal Injury Attorney
If you sustained injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct, it is crucial to seek experienced and skilled representation to pursue compensation for your pain and suffering. You deserve hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. At the Law Office of Robert W. Kovacs, Jr., we do exactly that. In fact, we have successfully represented hundreds of clients and negotiated with big insurance companies, which has given us the insight and experience that our clients continuously benefit from.
Call us today at (508) 926-8833 for a free consultation.