Car Accidents and Personal Injury – Most Important Legal Terms to Know

    Car Accidents and Personal Injury – Most Important Legal Terms to Know

    Common legal terms

    During the course of a lawsuit, you may encounter unfamiliar legal terminology.  Below is compiled list of terms to be help you understand information you may come across during your case:

    Affidavit – A formal written statement declared under oath.

    Arbitration – A non-judicial legal procedure that happens outside of the courts where parties dispute in front of a neutral party.

    Complaint – A legal document filed in court that initiates a civil lawsuit.  The complaint states the plaintiffs’ allegations against the defendant and their prayers for relief.

    Contingency Fee – Rather than an hourly or fixed fee, a contingency fee is paid to a personal injury attorney when he is successful in making a recovery on behalf of this client. The lawyer receives a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount.  If the lawyer is unsuccessful in making any recovery for the client, there is no fee charged to the client.

    Defendant – The party that a lawsuit is brought against.

    Damages - Technically, any damage caused to life and property in a car accident needs to be aptly compensated by the erring party. This also includes medical expenses, loss of wages, and intangible damages such as emotional turmoil. Punitive damages at times are also included.

    Deposition – Oral testimony taken under oath in which one party presents questions to the other party or relevant witnesses.

    Discovery – The investigation that takes place before a lawsuit goes to trial. Interrogation reports, testimonials of eye witnesses come under this category. These are essential to prove the offending party’s guilt or your innocence.

    Docket – The calendar of actions to be heard by a court in a certain period of time.

    Evidence – Information to support or prove a case.

    Expert Witness – A witness who lends their expertise in a given field to testimony in support of a party’s case.

    Evidence – Information to support or prove a case.

    Pain and sufferings – An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff is entitled if injuries as the result of the wrongdoings of another.

    Proximate cause – Also termed as a legal cause or cause at law, proximate cause is the main reason for the injury. Since we are talking about car accidents here, invariably the proximate cause for the injury for which the damages are to be paid is the result of an automotive accident.

    Personal injury – In personal injury claims, it is not only the bodily harm your car accident lawyer should talk about. As a result of the car accident, you and your family are undergoing extreme emotional strain and you need to become compensated for that too. It is not always about breaking even, you should receive monetary compensation that exceeds the cost of just the car damage. How about the emotional toll? How does this impact your professional career?  

    Plaintiff – The party that initiates a lawsuit against the defendant.

    Power of Attorney – A document that gives someone legal authority to act on a other person’s behalf.

    Product Liability – Product is the area of personal injury law that focuses on dangerous and defective products.  Manufacturers are held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their defective products.

    Punitive damages – Damages awarded to punish a party who committed a wrongful act rather than to compensate an injured party for actual damages.

    Slip and Fall Injuries – A person may be entitled to compensation if he or she falls and suffers an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence.

    Statute of limitations – Whenever an automobile accident occurs, it is mandatory that you should file a report with police and proceed towards making a personal injury claim. The lawsuit needs to be filed within a specific period. The period may differ for each state. This period in legal parlance is termed the statute of limitations.

     Summary Judgment – The judge’s decision that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties as a matter of law before a full trial.

    Summons – A legal document prepared by the plaintiff and issued by a court that informs the defendant that they have been sued.

    Tort – Negligent or wrongful conduct by one person that causes an injury to another for which an action for damages be brought.

    Witness – A person who testified under oath during legal proceedings including depositions, offering for their first hand experiences or expert opinion.

    Workers’ Compensation – Compensation for an injury obtained while performing one’s job.

    Wrongful death – A wrongful death action is a type of lawsuit brought on behalf of the surviving family or beneficiaries of a person who died through the fault or negligence of another.


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