Personal Injury: Legal term for an injury to the body, mind, or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.
Plaintiff: The person who brings a case against another in a court of law; the injured party in a personal injury case.
Defendant: An individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law.
Negligence: Failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.
Liability: Being responsible by law; legally answerable.
Damages: Monetary compensation that is awarded by a court in a civil action to an individual who has been injured through the wrongful conduct of another party.
Compensatory Damages: Money awarded to compensate the injured party for actual losses or damages.
Punitive Damages: Damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the defendant.
Settlement: An agreement reached between the plaintiff and defendant to resolve the lawsuit before it goes to trial or before a verdict is rendered.
Lawsuit: A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty.
Tort: A wrongful act or an infringement of a right leading to civil legal liability.
Contingency Fee: A fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court.
Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement.
Arbitration: A method of resolving disputes outside of court by presenting the case to a neutral third party or panel for a decision.
Deposition: The testimony of a witness taken under oath but outside of a courtroom.
Discovery: The pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party investigates the facts of a case, through the rules of civil procedure, by obtaining evidence from the opposing party and others by means of discovery devices.
Claim: A formal request to an insurance company asking for a payment based on the terms of the insurance policy.
Statute of Limitations: The time within which a lawsuit must be filed or a criminal prosecution begun.
Burden of Proof: The obligation to present evidence to the court or jury to prove one’s case.
Wrongful Death: A death caused by the wrongful act of another, either accidentally or intentionally.
Pain and Suffering: The physical and emotional stress caused from an injury.
Medical Malpractice: Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional.
Product Liability: The legal liability a manufacturer or trader incurs for producing or selling a faulty product.
Premises Liability: The liability a landowner or occupier has for certain torts that occur on the real property.
Comparative Negligence: A method for assigning fault and awarding damages based on the degree of responsibility of each party.
Contributory Negligence: A defense to a personal injury claim, alleging that the plaintiff’s own negligence played a part in causing the plaintiff’s injury.
Informed Consent: Permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.
Loss of Consortium: The deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by a tortfeasor.
Expert Witness: A witness who has knowledge beyond that of the ordinary layperson enabling him/her to give testimony regarding an issue that requires expertise to understand.
Standard of Care: The degree of care (watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence) that a reasonable person should exercise under the circumstances.
Litigation: The process of taking legal action; the process of suing someone or being sued.
Trial: A formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically a jury, in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings.
Verdict: A decision on a disputed issue in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.
Appeal: Apply to a higher court for a reversal of the decision of a lower court.
Class Action: A lawsuit filed or defended by an individual or small group acting on behalf of a large group.
Subrogation: The right of an insurer to pursue the party that caused an insurance loss to the insured in an attempt to recover funds paid in the claim.
Out-of-Court Settlement: Resolution of a dispute prior to the rendering of a decision by the trial court.
Joint and Several Liability: A legal doctrine that makes each of the parties who are responsible for an injury, liable for all the damages awarded in a lawsuit if the other parties responsible cannot pay.
Causation: The action of causing something; the relationship between cause and effect.
Breach of Duty: A failure to fulfill an obligation or duty, resulting in harm to another.
Duty of Care: The responsibility or legal obligation of a person or organization to avoid acts or omissions that could likely cause harm to others.