Our law team, and other legal professionals, comes across many terms on a daily basis that isn’t used too often (if at all) by the general public. These terms have specific meanings, and allow us to do our job diligently.
Knowing these terms yourself, may also make the personal injury process easier, should you become involved in a personal injury lawsuit. Below is a list of common terminology encountered during the personal injury process.
Petition. Simple, a petition is a lawsuit. When you want to file a personal injury petition you file documents with a court clerk, pay a filing fee, and then begin the lawsuit process.
Plaintiff. A plaintiff is someone who files a lawsuit. When you file a complaint or petition, you will include your name as plaintiff.
Defendant. A defendant is someone who is being sued.
Party. A party is someone involved in a lawsuit. A party can be either the plaintiff or the defendant.
Negligence. Negligence describes when someone fails to act in the way the law requires him or her to act. If you fail to act with reasonable and prudent care, your actions might be negligent. If someone suffers a harm or injury because of your negligence, you might have to pay that person damages in the personal injury case.
Damages. Damages is another term for money. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you ask that a court find in your favor and order the defendant to pay damages. In a personal injury case, there are several types of damages that may arise, including:
· pain and suffering damages
· compensatory damages, and
· punitive damages
Torts. Torts are a specific type of lawsuit that involves one person (the defendant) committing a civil harm against someone else (the plaintiff).
Tortfeasors. A tortfeasor is the person who caused the other person injuries, or performed the act that lead to the lawsuit.
Affidavit. An affidavit is a written document in which the signer swears under oath before a notary public or someone authorized to take oaths (like a County Clerk), that the statements in the document are true.
Discovery. Discovery is the process of investigating the facts surrounding a case before trial. Discovery includes a variety of methods including:
· demands for production of documents
· deposition of parties and potential witnesses
· written interrogatories
· written requests for admission of fact and examination of the scene.
Deposition. A deposition is when a witness gives testimony about the case, under oath, outside of the courtroom and before a trial takes place. Depositions are part of the discovery process, and can involve almost anyone related to a case.
Preponderance of the Evidence. In personal injury cases, the plaintiff has to provide evidence to show that the defendant violated the plaintiff’s rights by a preponderance of the evidence. Simply put, you have to have evidence that shows the defendant acted wrongfully, and that evidence has to be convincing.
Judgment. If a personal injury case goes to trial, the jury will often make a determination of the outcome. This decision is known as the judgment. The judgment says how much you win, if you win your personal injury case.