Personal Injury Vocabulary: A Must-Know Glossary for Your Case
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Personal Injury Vocabulary Glossary


Personal Injury Vocabulary

So, you were hurt as the result of someone else’s negligence. You’ve hired a GOLDLAW West Palm Beach personal injury attorney, and you are preparing to file a claim. Certainly, your attorney will guide you through the process, but there are things you can do on your own to better prepare yourself for the upcoming case, especially if you are required to give a deposition, or if the case goes to court.

Having a basic understanding of personal injury terminology can be a BIG help, to both you and your attorney. Here is a sample glossary of terms that will help you understand the basics, as well as understand your claim more clearly when you discuss it with your attorney:

Burden of Proof

This describes the responsibility to PROVE that the allegations described in a complaint are true. In almost all cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff. In most accident-related personal injury suits, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions more likely than not caused their injuries.

Comparative Fault

A legal defense that could find both parties partially responsible for the accident, thus limiting the amount that could be recovered in a negligence-based claim. Also referred to as non-absolute contributory negligence.

Contingency Fee

A sum of money that a lawyer receives as payment only if the case is WON. The fee is dependent upon the attorney winning a settlement and is the way that most personal injury attorneys are paid.


What a plaintiff is looking to receive from their lawsuit. In the case of accident-related personal injury claims, damages usually mean money. There are two types of monetary damages a plaintiff could seek:

  • Economic damages – These are quantifiable numbers, such as medical bills, lost wages, car repairs.
  • Non-economic damages – These are more abstract ideas, including pain, suffering, and humiliation.


An out-of-court question and answer session/testimony under oath. Generally recorded in an authorized place outside of a courtroom and usually documented by a court reporter. Questions are asked by the opposing attorney, with the party’s attorney present, in order to have an official, written account of what happened. 

Future Damages

Refer to any long-term losses or impairments an injured party expects to deal with after an accident. This figure is usually included in the total damages sought by a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Some future damages may include:

  • Loss of income including regular wages, overtime, bonuses
  • Future medical and rehabilitation costs
  • Attendant care
  • Home maintenance


Refers to a party’s legal responsibility/accountability arising from their actions. Someone may be held liable due to their actions and inactions. Or the actions of people or animals for which they are legally responsible. A liable party may be required to pay the victim or perform a certain action.


The process of taking legal action and/or filing a lawsuit.


Situation when outside help used to settle a dispute. Also, a non-binding method of resolving a case in which a neutral 3rd party, agreed upon by both parties, helps the disputing sides to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.


A party’s failure to meet the standard level of care required by law to protect others from harm. To prove negligence, the victim must show that the defendant had a legal duty to observe a certain level of care and that they violated the duty, causing injuries to the victim.


An agreement reached between the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) which does not require the approval of a judge. Typically, this type of settlement will be struck between lawyers before a trial takes place.

Personal Injury

Any injury caused by another party’s negligence. It could be physical, mental, or emotional and includes property damage. The victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the negative consequences of the negligent party.


The party or group of parties bringing the lawsuit. If you slip and fall and sue the grocery store where the slip and fall occurred, you would be the plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Premises Liability

Refers to the legal principles that hold landowners responsible when someone enters their property and gets hurt due to a dangerous condition, usually based on negligence. This concept comes from laws that state a person can reasonably expect to be safe when they enter someone else’s property.


An agreement between parties to end a lawsuit by paying compensation. Here, the plaintiff agrees to receive money in return for dropping the claim against the defendant. A release is then signed, declaring the defendant free from further liability.

Statute of Limitations

A law(s) that determines the period of time that someone has to file legal action, usually beginning when the injury or damage occurs. In Florida, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is four (4) years, except for Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death, which is two (2) years. If the personal injury claim is against the city, county, or state government, the limit is three (3) years.


An act or omission that causes harm or injury to another. Basically, a civil wrong for which the court imposes a liability. In torts, “harm” refers to a loss or detriment a party suffers.

Wrongful Death

Situation where the victim dies because of the defendant’s actions. Also refers to a civil action brought by the victim’s family members/dependents who lost the support of the deceased. An executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate may file a lawsuit for wrongful death on behalf of the deceased.

Have you been injured because someone else was negligent? You may have a case to file a personal injury claim. To see what your options are, visit the GOLDLAW website, or call us at 561-222-222 for a COMPLIMENTARY consultation!