personal injury terms

Personal Injury in Plain English

Most people find the legal processes so complex that they never wish to get involved in a lawsuit. To complicate matters further, there are the legal jargons used by personal injury lawyers. You can hardly make sense of most of them. Here are the common personal injury terms (listed in alphabetical order) that you will need to know if you have filed, or are about to file, or are thinking of filing a personal injury claim.

  • Abuse: Physical or emotional ill-treatment of a person resulting in physical or emotional injury. There are several different types of abuse, such as sexual abuse, child abuse and nursing home abuse.
  • Accident: An undesirable and usually unexpected incident that causes economic or non-economic harm. It can be the result of mistake, negligence or misconduct.
  • Appeal: A legal process that allows you to request a higher court to review the decision in order to have it reversed or reduced.
  • Arbitration: The use an arbitrator (an independent person) to settle a dispute. (See mediation).
  • Attorney: A person who is authorized by a federal or state court to practice law and represent a client in legal matters.
  • Beneficiary: A person who is entitled to receive property or benefits in a will or trust.
  • Cause: An action that produces a result or an effect. Also called causation, it is a matter to be decided by a court.
  • Claim: A declaration of your legal right to seek compensation in the form of either money or benefits after you have sustained injuries or losses.
  • Comparative negligence: A method by which liability and damages are proportionally assigned among the parties at fault.
  • Compensation: A payment made to an individual to make up for a loss or injury caused to him or her. For personal injuries, it can be made for injuries (physical or emotional), economic loss, loss of consortium and economic loss.
  • Contributory negligence: A way to assign liability and damages taking into consideration the plaintiff’s actions or behavior that contributed to the harm.
  • Damages: Monetary compensation given to the plaintiff by the order of the court for the losses he or she endured.
  • Decision: A written decision given by a court based on the facts presented by the plaintiff and defendant.
  • Defendant: An individual or entity who is accused by another individual of causing an injury or loss endured by him or her.
  • Disability: A medical condition or injury that interferes with your ability to make an earning.
  • Dispute: A disagreement between the plaintiff and the defendant to be resolved in court or by other legal processes.
  • Fault: A failure to act reasonably or according to law through either negligence or intention.
  • Guardian: A person designated by a court to care for another person and his or her property.
  • Immunity: A status that gives an individual or entity from being sued or prosecuted.
  • Income: Money earned by an individual on a reoccurring basis.
  • Injury: Harm, loss or damages caused to an individual through the negligence of another person.
  • Judgment: The final ruling or decision of a court in a lawsuit. In personal injury cases, it could be an award of money for the injuries and damages caused to the plaintiff.
  • Juvenile: An individual deemed by law to be too young to be prosecuted as an adult. Such a person should be 17 years old or younger.
  • Liability: Accountability or responsibility for causing injuries and losses to another person.
  • Loss: The monetary value assigned to an injury or damage caused to an individual by another person’s negligence. The loss may be emotional, physical or property.
  • Maine Liquor Liability Act: A statute that provides an individual with a limited right of legal recourse against a bar, restaurant or server of alcohol for causing injury or death of a visibly intoxicated person by over serving him or her.
  • Maine Tort Claims Act: A statute that provides an individual with a limited right of legal recourse to claim and collect monetary damages from a municipal or state agency.
  • Malpractice: A negligent act of a professional resulting in injury to an individual. The act can be a negligence, breach of duty or lack of required skill.
  • Mediation: A way of resolving disputes between the plaintiff and the defendant, usually before the case goes to the court. (See arbitration)
  • Mental anguish: Emotional suffering inflicted on an individual.
  • Negligence: Failure of an individual or entity to exercise reasonable care to prevent another individual from being harmed.
  • Personal injury: An injury caused to an individual. It may be physical, emotional or to his/her reputation.
  • Premises: The land and building considered as a property.
  • Premises liability: The liability for injuries arising from a land or building.
  • Product liability: The liability for injuries arising from a product’s design, make or marketing.
  • Proof: Evidences presented in a court.
  • Property: The material possession of an individual, such as land, building and products.
  • Property damage: The damage or destruction done to an individual’s property by another person.
  • Recover: To get compensation for injuries and losses as a result of a lawsuit or negotiated settlement.
  • Risk: A known chance of an injury or loss.
  • Settlement: An agreement made between opposing parties to resolve a dispute. The settlement is made by personal injury lawyers on behalf of their clients.
  • Statute of limitation: The window of time during which an individual can file a lawsuit against another individual for causing injury or loss. It generally begins when the injured person discovers his or her injuries or losses.
  • Witness: An individual who saw the events that led to the lawsuit.
  • Wrongful death: A death of an individual caused by the negligence, wrongful act or willful act of another person or entity.