After a serious accident occurs, you may choose to meet with a personal injury lawyer to help settle your case. During the consultation and throughout your case, your lawyer may use terms or phrases that your unfamiliar with.
To help you feel more comfortable, we’ve put together 18 of the most common terms you’ll likely hear from a personal injury lawyer. Familiarizing yourself with these legal terms will help you better understand the details of your case.
Discovery – part of a case where each party tries to gather as much information as possible before trial.
Deposition – part of the discovery process where an individual / witness answers questions or gives a statement under oath.
Negligence – the basis of every personal injury case. Negligence occurs when an individual fails to act the way a reasonable person would have in similar circumstances.
Statute of Limitations – the time limit every plaintiff has to take legal action following an injury.
Damages – compensation that a plaintiff may be awarded. There are two types of damages in personal injury cases, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Punitive Damages – a monetary award to a plaintiff for the purpose of punishing a defendant’s bad behavior.
Compensatory Damages – damages provide a plaintiff with the monetary amount necessary to replace what was lost, and nothing more.
(MMI) Maximum Medical Improvement – is the doctor’s way of saying “it’s as good as it’s going to get.” When an injury has occurred and the employee reaches a state where his or her condition cannot be improved, the doctor will inform the patient/client they have reached MMI.
Mediation – intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration.
Personal Injury – is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.
Plaintiff – is the party or group of parties bringing the lawsuit. If you slip and fall and sue the grocery store in which the slip and fall occurred, you would be the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Complaint – the plaintiff initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the appropriate court. The personal injury complaint is the formal expression of your grievances.
Prayer for Relief – the complaint also includes a prayer for relief, which is a fancy way of saying it includes information concerning how much money you want.
Defendant – the plaintiff serves the complaint upon the defendant. The defendant is the party that is allegedly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. In the prior example, the grocery store would be the defendant.
Answer – defendants file a formal answer to the complaint, which serves to notify the plaintiff and the court of the defendant’s position regarding the allegations.
Pain and Suffering – bodily and/or emotional harm caused by a personal injury; a type of non-economic damage.
Vicarious Liability – a mechanism for holding one individual accountable for the actions of another.
Premises Liability – is the liability for a landowner for certain torts that occur on the real property.
Torts – a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to civil legal liability.
Need to Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
We hope this quick list can help you better understand some of the common terms you’ll encounter when working with a personal injury lawyer. If you’d like to discuss your individual case, or you have further questions, Hancock Law Firm offers a free no-obligation case evaluation.