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Defining Common Personal Injury Terms

personal injury

For people who may be embroiled in personal injury litigation for the very first time or may have never seen the inside of a courtroom; understanding and interpreting the legal lexicon and vernacular can prove to be quite challenging. While each personal injury litigation is unique in terms of its litigants and circumstances, the terminology employed to bring or defend a lawsuit is the same.

In our endeavor to help you gain a better grasp of the personal injury litigation process and the legal jargon associated with it, we define and explain some of the common personal injury terms that will be used at all times in your court case.



The legal term for an individual, entity, or a group of individuals, pursuing a lawsuit in court. When you file a claim to seek damages for your injuries to someone, you are the plaintiff in that civil case.



The term is used for an individual, entity, or group of individuals, facing allegations of causing injuries in a lawsuit. Based on the circumstances of a personal injury lawsuit, there may be only one defendant or several.


Torts and Intentional Torts

In legal terms, a tort is described as any negligence or wrongdoing that causes hurt to an individual although it does not either violate a contract or can be considered a crime. Torts, from negligence to misconduct, invariably are the reasons behind a civil lawsuit. An intentional tort, such as a violent assault, may lead to the plaintiff bringing both civil and criminal liability lawsuits against the defendant.



The most common of all the torts in a personal injury civil lawsuit is negligence. In personal injury litigation, the plaintiff needs to prove that the offender had a legal obligation to act with caution and care but failed to fulfill that obligation.


Burden of Proof

In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove the allegations against the defendant to be more likely true than not is termed as the burden of proof. The extent of proof that the law demands in a lawsuit depends on the nature and type of litigation.


In a personal injury case, a plaintiff must use extensive evidence to establish the defendant’s liability. The predominant thing a plaintiff needs to prove in a personal injury lawsuit is that the defendant’s act was negligent, and this negligence subsequently led to the plaintiff’s injuries.


Statute of Limitations

As per law, there is a time limit until when you may file your personal injury civil lawsuit. This time limit, also known as the statute of limitations, is different in different states but is commonly between 2 to 4 years from the date of the injury. Wrongful death torts mostly have a statute of limitations that is shorter than personal injury lawsuits. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of your injury, although there are exceptions that apply in certain circumstances.



The financial compensation benefits you seek to recover from the defendant or their insurance company in a personal injury lawsuit are called damages. The two main categories of damages are economic and non-economic. While economic damages generally include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage as a result of an accident; non-economic damages take into account other factors like loss of companionship and emotional anguish.


The third type of damages called punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff for injuries and damages caused by acts of extreme recklessness or malice on the part of the defendant.



Most of the states in America follow a fault-based legal theory for car accidents but a few apply a no-fault system. In a no-fault state, every car owner needs to have a PIP or a personal injury protection plan with the car insurance, that allows them to collect from their insurance provider. You must ensure that you are aware of the laws of your state before you decide to pursue a personal injury case for car accidents. Georgia is not a no-fault state. Georgia operates under a traditional tort insurance system, which means that the driver found to be at fault in an accident is responsible for damages.


Expert Witness

A technical, financial, or any other professional who is considered an expert in their field of work, be it physics, economics, or the law. Testimony from an expert witness goes a long way in establishing the veracity and value of your compensation claim for your personal injuries and property damages in a court of law.


Prayer for Relief

A complaint letter submitted in court by the plaintiff also referred to as the demand for relief, provides specific details of the damages sustained due to the accident. This letter also includes the demand for the amount of compensation that the plaintiff is seeking to recover in a lawsuit.



A settlement is a term for an amount of money negotiated and agreed upon between the defendant and the plaintiff, to be paid by the defendant to compensate for the plaintiff’s damages.


In case of a settlement, the plaintiff need not go to trial in court. A settlement is considered a faster and less expensive alternative for both parties, instead of an arduous and protracted legal battle.


Strong Legal Representation for Personal Injury Plaintiffs in Atlanta, GA

If you or someone you know is a victim of an accident, you need not navigate the complicated civil litigation process all by yourself. Regardless of the injuries you may have sustained, the Stein Firm P.C. is here to help you fight for your rights and recover fair compensation for yourself. Reach us online or call our office today at 855-589-0433 for your free consultation and case assessment.

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