Suffering from a personal injury is overwhelming enough, but then feeling like you need to learn all of the differed terms and legal requirements surrounding your injury and your claim can be equally, if not more, overwhelming. This is why it is so important to hire a personal injury lawyer to take your case and to give yourself the emotional space necessary to focus on recovery without being bogged down by these complexities and requirements.
The following terms are just some of the terms you will hear your lawyer using, and will need to have a basic idea of no matter how removed from the case you will actually be. Some are more important than others, and this list is by no means comprehensive, so make sure that you are comfortable asking your attorney to clarify any terms or concepts that you do not understand. You are a team throughout this process, and it is important that you understand what is going on in your case so that you have peace of mind to focus on your own recovery.
Common Personal Injury Terms
If you think that we have missed any big ones, let us know in the comments!
This is an important term to know, especially in vehicle accidents or other situations where the victim may be held partially responsible for the accident that they were injured in. Under comparative negligence laws, a victim can be partially at fault for the accident but still entitled to damages—they will be reduced by the amount that they are responsible.
Depending on which state you live in, there may be damage caps on non-economic damages that you must be aware of. A damage cap sets an arbitrary limit to the amount of money a victim can seek for non-economic damages, and are most common in medical malpractice cases.
Damages are payments intended to compensate a victim for the impacts of their injury, both financial and non-financial. Even if a particular injury or loss is not financial in nature, it is most common for the damages—or compensation—to be financial.
Economic damages are the losses and injuries that are purely financial in nature, such as medical bills or lost wages. These are the easiest damages to calculate, since they generally require simply finding the sum of all of these measurable impacts.
Non-economic damages are the injuries and losses of a personal injury that do not have dollar values appended to them, and therefore require additional work to identify a fair and reasonable dollar amount to compensate the victim with. These are the most common damages to have caps in some states.
This is an individual’s responsibility to keep those around them safe by acting in a certain manner, or not acting negligently or recklessly. A failure of their duty of care is a decision to engage in dangerous behavior that can harm others.
Fault is the defendant’s failure to act safely, appropriately, or reasonably, which caused the injuries in question. Fault can take many forms depending on the type of accident in question, but at the center of it all, this is the question about who is to blame for the accident.
Liability is the actual responsibility for an accident and for the resultant injuries. This is a central question to a personal injury case, and one that you and your attorney will need to work diligently to establish before you can move forward with seeking compensation for your injuries and losses.
Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” are tems that are often heard in relation to personal injury cases, and are one of many non-economic damages from an injury. The actual pain and suffering that a victim endures from an injury is considered a damage, and the sufferer is entitled to compensation for it.
Premise liability is the legal principle that a property owner is legally responsible for the wellbeing of anyone who enters their property and is, therefore, liable for any injuries due to dangerous conditions.
A settlement is an out-of-court agreement on compensation between the at-fault defendant and the injured plaintiff. Many personal injury claims end in settlement, because they are less time-consuming and costly than court cases, and the defendant does not need to disclose the details of the case or the terms of the settlement. In a trial this information is made public, which can make for bad PR.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a law that sets out the amount of time that a victim has to take legal action against the responsible party. Florida’s statutes of limitations range from 4 years for personal injury, 2 years for medical malpractice, and 3 years against any government entity. After this statute has expired, there is little to no recourse for the victim.