Legal talk 101- common words used in personal injury cases and their meanings
One of the most common requests we get during our personal injury consultations is to define what we mean by a word or phrase. While our attorneys can definitely handle the more technical points of legal jargon, there are some terms that you should become familiar with. The following definitions are explanations for some of the more common phrases and words in personal injury cases.
ASSUMPTION OF RISK
When a person voluntarily proceeds with a risk despite obvious and known danger. In this situation, the individual assumed the risk and thus will not be permitted to seek monetary damages from those they believe to be responsible.
A branch of law governing disputes between individuals and/or corporations, in which compensation may be awarded to one or more parties. For the purpose of civil law, corporations take on the legal status of individuals.
Civil law is distinct from criminal law, and a civil action may not necessarily preclude a criminal action.
CLAIM (PERSONAL INJURY)
A civil action relating to the physical or mental harm suffered by the plaintiff, or on behalf of the injured victim, due to negligence on the defendant’s part.
Money awarded to an injured person in a pre-litigation settlement or successful plaintiff in a civil court case for actual economic losses. In Florida, economic losses include past and future medical expenses, lost wages and loss of future earning capacity, as well as non-economic losses such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
In Florida civil cases, the fancy way to say “lawsuit.”
Whether the injured person was himself or herself negligent, and if so, whether that negligence was a contributing legal cause of injury or damage.
The amount of money awarded to the plaintiff in a civil court case. Money may be awarded for compensatory damages and punitive damages.
In a civil court of law, the party against whom the civil lawsuit has been filed.
In cases of negligence, a “duty” refers to an obligation to provide a certain standard of care. Failure to meet this obligation is negligence, and cause for legal action on the part of the injured individual.
GREATER WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE
Greater weight of the evidence means the more persuasive and convincing force and effect of the entire evidence in the case. Compared to the burden of proof standard set in criminal cases, which must be “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Intentional failure to perform a standard of duty by recklessly disregarding another person’s health or property; also known as willful negligence.
An employee of the insurance company, whose job it is to settle insurance claims. Insurance adjusters are hired to protect the financial interests of the insurance company, which means that they are seeking to settle the insurance claim for as little money as possible.
Many large insurance companies such as Allstate and State Farm have faced lawsuits over fraudulent or illegal practices by their insurance adjusters.
Next post up: Legal Talk 101- Part 2