While every personal injury case is different, they all share the same language. Unfortunately, that language may not be words you hear every day. Being unfamiliar with the terminology that is commonly used may make a stressful situation worse.
Of course, you have hired a top Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, and your attorney could explain every unfamiliar term you come across. But perhaps by using this list to acquaint yourself with the terminology you can be in a better position to understand your case and help yourself.
General Legal Terms:
- Affidavit: a written statement made under oath.
- Counsel: an attorney, or the legal advice given by an attorney.
- De Facto: a practice that commonly exists but is not necessarily defined by law.
- Writ: a court order to either do or not do a particular act.
Basic Terms Of a Lawsuit:
- Plaintiff: the party bringing the lawsuit, represented by a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer.
- Defendant: the party allegedly liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
- Complaint: the formal declaration of the plaintiff’s grievance.
- Answer: the written statement by the defense in response to the complaint.
- Prayer for Relief: the amount of money requested in the complaint for compensation.
Terms Related to Personal Injury:
- Statute of limitations: the time during which a lawsuit must be filed, which varies. In California, the statute of limitations on personal injury suits is two years.
- Torts: a civil charge regarding a wrongful act that is not a crime.
- Intentional Torts: wrongful acts committed purposely, such as assault or theft.
Terms Heard During a Personal Injury Case:
- Negligence: conduct that arises from carelessness or failure to act, resulting in damage or injury.
- Burden of proof: the responsibility to prove disputed facts. In a civil case, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. In a criminal case, the government must prove that the defendant is guilty.
- Strict liability: assigns liability for certain situations regardless of wrongdoing or fault. It shifts liability to the defendant, who must now prove that they are not liable.
- Damages: in a civil suit, money paid by the defendant to the plaintiff if the plaintiff wins the case. There are two types of damages. Compensatory damages are to reimburse for loss or injury. Punitive damages are levied to punish a guilty defendant and to deter future misconduct.
Terms Related to Car Accidents:
- No-Fault: in no-fault states, every driver must carry auto insurance. In the case of an accident, each driver is responsible, with their insurer, for their own damage or injury, up to a certain threshold.
- Fault: California is a fault state, meaning that whoever is found liable for an accident is responsible for all damages and injuries to all parties. This status reinforces the need for a top Los Angeles personal injury lawyer for all California car accident victims.
- Facts of Loss: a record of what happened during a car accident, often used to describe a narrative section of a police report.
- Pain and Suffering: the category of damages that defines the amount of money the court believes is necessary to compensate for psychological or emotional injury.
While these terms may be new to you, familarizing yourself with what they mean and how they relate to your case can help you understand the litigation process and bring you peace of mind during a stressful time.