When you file a personal injury lawsuit you will soon discover that it can be confusing and difficult to understand because there are so many legal terms used during the process. Your attorney will explain to you the meaning of these terms but it is helpful to educate yourself. The benefit of learning the legal terms that will be used is that you can follow along with what is going on and feel included in the process. It is easy to become frustrated when you are reading complicated documents or listening to attorneys negotiate your settlement. Of course you can’t become an expert overnight; that is why you hired an attorney; but you can learn a few common terms. Here are a few terms that you should acquaint yourself with.
- Complaint: The first document filed which presents your claim that is filed with the court
- Plaintiff: The injured person or people on the behalf of the injured person bringing the lawsuit
- Defendant: The person or entity that caused the injury or have liability for the injury to the plaintiff
- Tort: A wrongful act under the law that causes injury or loss to an individual
- Statute of Limitations: A time limit for bringing charges against someone in a lawsuit
- Negligence: Failing to act in an expected manner to protect and keep from harming an individual
- Damages: All that an individual expects to recover from the defendant for the personal injury
- Liability: The state of being legally responsible and accountable to something or someone
- Contingency Fee: The sum of money an attorney receives only if the case is won
- Deposition: An informal testimony about the personal injury that is recorded for the court
- Informal Settlement: A settlement that is negotiated and agreed upon outside of court
- Burden of Proof: To prove that an individual’s claim of injury is accurate and true
These are only a few of the many terms used. If you take the time to examine and understand the legal terms used during your case you will feel more confident that you understand and agree with the whole process used to determine the settlement of your case. Speak with your lawyer, always, about anything and everything you have questions about, or do not understand. If you are in a situation, waiting for your settlement to finalize, and you are struggling to make ends meet please give us a call.