hidden overlay

Common Terms in Personal Injury Law [Cheat Sheet Included]

Common Terms in Personal Injury Law [Cheat Sheet Included]

Legal language is sophisticated and complex, often to an unnecessary degree. Victims navigating the realm of personal injury law in the wake of an accident or injury commonly find this specialized dictionary complex, confusing, and inaccessible, which is why we’ve made this guide.

At Morgan and Morgan, we seek to level the legal playing field by offering both education and powerful legal representation. Continue reading for our cheat sheet of common terms across personal injury law – so you’re well-equipped if you find yourself injured after an accident you didn’t cause.

If you have questions about a personal injury situation you’re involved in, complete our free, no-risk case evaluation to learn more about your options with our team.


The Basics of Personal Injury Law

There are two primary types of law: criminal and civil. Most people are more familiar with criminal law, as it’s more commonly featured on TV shows and in media, but civil law offers protections easily as important for individuals.

Although it’s not as glamorous, civil law allows private parties to sue another party to recover the resources needed to become “whole.” This definition means that the person wronged by the other party is compensated adequately, where they can cover all the costs stemming from the situation at hand. Personal injury law is a subset of civil law dealing with cases of injury. 

Think of it this way: Insurance acts as a financial safety net, while personal injury law is there to catch you if that safety net breaks. For example, you can pursue legal action if you’re injured in a car accident and your insurance company lowballs your settlement or if you slip and fall in a grocery store and your medical bills exceed your insurance payout.


Common Terms in Personal Injury Law

Below, we’ll explore some of the most common personal injury terms that accident victims encounter throughout the legal process:

  • Arbitration: An alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party hears both sides of the case and makes a decision outside of court.
  • Claim: A formal request of compensation for losses or damages suffered due to a third party’s negligence, wrongful action, or inaction.
  • Compensatory Damages: Financial compensation awarded to cover losses and expenses suffered as a direct result of an injury.
  • Contingency Fee: A payment structure where a lawyer's fee is contingent upon winning the case, typically a percentage of the settlement or award. Morgan and Morgan operates on this contingency and doesn’t require any out-of-pocket or upfront costs.
  • Damages: Monetary compensation sought for recovery or awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit for loss or injury.
  • Defendant: The party being sued in a personal injury case.
  • Deposition: A sworn, out-of-court testimony by a witness or party involved in the case. Used for gathering information during the discovery process to preserve for future reference.
  • Discovery: The pre-trial phase in a lawsuit, where both parties investigate the facts of the case through the exchange of documents and depositions.
  • Liability: Legal responsibility for one's actions or omissions that result in injury or damage to another.
  • Litigation: The process of taking legal action; Also used in place of “lawsuit.”
  • Negligence: A failure to behave with the level of care that another reasonable party would have exercised under the same circumstances, leading to unintended harm to another person.
  • Plaintiff: The person or party who starts a lawsuit in civil court by filing a complaint.
  • Punitive Damages: Monetary compensation awarded in addition to actual damages to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or malicious behavior.
  • Settlement: An agreement reached between disputing parties to resolve a lawsuit without going to trial.
  • Statute of Limitations: The deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed, varying by type of claim and jurisdiction.
  • Verdict: The final decision made by a judge or jury on the matters presented during a trial.
  • Wrongful Death: A claim against a person who can be held liable for a death, typically arising from negligence or intentional harm.


Contact Morgan and Morgan

The path to rightful justice and compensation can be complex and demanding. But, when equipped with the right information, you can make informed decisions about your case and future. Whether you're embarking on this journey for yourself or supporting someone close to you, remember that you're not alone in this process as long as Morgan and Morgan still practices.

With $20+ billion recovered, offices nationwide, and the resources to fight for every penny you deserve, we serve as a powerful legal ally to anyone seeking rightful compensation after an accident they didn’t cause. We require no upfront or out-of-pocket costs, and we’re only paid if we reach a successful outcome in your case. Take the first step with our team today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation.