Common Personal Injury Terminology
Personal injury lawsuits themselves are complex, but once you add in the legal terminology, you could find it extremely confusing. Having an attorney by your side can make the process easier, but you should still do your own due diligence in trying to understand the process – especially the terms that will be used to explain your claim to you.
To help better understand the process, we have compiled a list of common personal injury terms that you will experience after filing a claim. These terms will be used often in court, in documents pertaining to your case and will often be used by your own attorney. If ever you are unsure what your attorney is discussing with you, it is important to ask questions so that your attorney and yourself are on the same page.
Common Legal Terms Used in Personal Injury Claims
- Affidavit – This is a legal document that is a statement of facts. Anyone submitting this will be stating facts as an affiant. In order to submit an affidavit to the court, you must make a written statement under oath or affirm in some way that the statement is true. This is done in front of a public notary. These documents will contain facts about your claim and can be made by anyone as long as they are a capable adult.
- Complaint – This is the lawsuit itself. You will file your personal injury complaint with the court clerk, pay a fee, and then the process will commence. The complaint contains information about the injury, such as what you allege happened and your demands for compensation.
- Damages – Damages are what you seek for your injuries. These include financial compensation and can cover things like medical costs, pain and suffering, etc. In some cases, you could also seek additional punitive damages in order to punish the defendant for their behavior.
- Defendant – This is the person you are suing for compensation. You will need to identify who you think is responsible for your injuries in order to list them on the complaint. Some cases will have multiple defendants listed, while others may only have one.
- Deposition – Deposition is when a witness or yourself will give a testimony about the case outside of the actual trial. These can be done in your attorney’s office or in the defense’s office. They are often recorded or videotaped and you are under oath – even if you are not present in court. The deposition is often done during the discovery phase and those interviewed will be witnesses to the accident as well as other parties that directly pertain to the case.
- Discovery – This is a phase of the personal injury process that investigates facts and evidence. The process will begin after the complaint has been made or a demand letter has been issued to the defendant.
- Interrogatory – This is the list of questions that either side can ask the other side, as well as witnesses and experts involved in the case. The questions are designed to gain information or facts about the case and are also part of the discovery process.
- Judgment – In most personal injury claims, there is a settlement made long before the case ever goes to trial. However, if the case does go to trial and a jury or judge makes a decision, this decision is referred to as a judgment. The court will create the judgment against the defendant which states the type of damages the defense is required to pay and the amount of damages they must pay in the case. This document gives the plaintiff permission from the court to collect on damages.
- Negligence – This is required in order to file a personal injury claim. When someone fails to act in a way that is expected by the law or they fail to provide the standard duty to act responsibly, they are considered negligent.
- Party – This is the individual involved in the lawsuit, which can be yourself, other plaintiffs or even the defendants.
- Plaintiff – The person bringing the complaint to the court is the plaintiff (the injured party). If there is more than one person injured, there could be more plaintiffs listed on the complaint documentation.
- Preponderance of Evidence – This refers to the plaintiff’s ability to show enough evidence that the defendant has violated the plaintiff’s right to a duty of care. That means that the evidence submitted to the court makes it likely that the defendant is at fault.
- Torts – Torts are a type of lawsuit that involves a single person that has committed harm against another.
- Tortfeasors – These are regarding a person who has caused injuries to a person or that performed an act that led to a lawsuit.
Did You Suffer an Injury? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one was seriously injured, contact an attorney from The Slocum Firm, P.C. today. Our attorneys are here to help you during this trying time. We want to ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and that you are not burdened with costs related to an accident that was not your fault. To get started, meet with one of our attorneys for a no obligation consultation at 888-367-4577 or fill out an online contact form with your legal questions.