Definitions of Common Personal Injury Terminology

If you’ve been hurt, trying to understand complicated legal jargon can add insult to injury – and make compensation feel out of reach. But Hoffman Law Firm is here to help!

Our North Charleston personal injury lawyers can help translate the terms you need to know, ensuring you feel informed every step of the way. We’ve defined some common terms below, but if you have a question not covered here, feel free to get in touch.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Terms

  • Accident Report: Official documentation of your accident, typically a police officer’s report or medical professional’s recording.
  • Burden of Proof: The plaintiff’s obligation to prove that their allegations are true. In typical personal injury cases, the plaintiff uses a preponderance of evidence to prove, more likely than not, that the defendant’s actions caused the injury.
  • Damages: The compensation sought, intended to “make the plaintiff whole.” Damages are classified as economic (medical costs, property damage, lost wages, etc) or non-economic (pain and suffering, loss of companionship, etc). Punitive damages may also be awarded in very extreme cases of negligence.
  • Defendant: A person, group or organization allegedly responsible for causing injury in a civil lawsuit. There may be multiple defendants, depending on the case’s type and complexity.
  • Duty/Standard of Care: The obligation to protect others from harm, as much as it is reasonably possible to do so. For medical malpractices cases or those involving professional liability, the defendant’s actions are evaluated using the industry’s accepted standards.
  • Expert witness: An individual widely considered to be an authority in their profession, such as a doctor, lawyer or psychologist. Expert witness testimony is often employed to prove the value of your case.
  • Negligence: To prove negligence, the following criteria must be met:
    • The defendant had a duty/obligation to the plaintiff
    • The defendant violated their duty
    • The violation caused injury/harm to the plaintiff 
    • The defendant’s actions caused specific, actual damages
  • Plaintiff: A person, group or organization pursuing a civil lawsuit.
  • Preponderance of Evidence: Shown in civil cases where a jury or judge does not need to be entirely sure that negligence or another tort occurred. They must only believe that, based on the evidence available, it is more likely to be true than not.
  • Settlement: The agreed-upon sum of money paid by the defendant as compensation for the plaintiff’s damages. By agreeing to pursue a settlement, the defendant can often avoid a court trial.
  • Statute of Limitations: The time limit during which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. The length varies from state to state and depends on the type of case.
  • Strict Liability: Applies to actions that are obviously harmful, but in cases where the plaintiff does not need to prove fault or negligence – such as hazardous or defective products.
  • Tort: A wrongful action that hurts another person but is not considered a crime or violation of contract. Intentional torts may make the defendant criminally liable as well as civilly liable.

Injured in South Carolina? Consult An Attorney Today!

If you’ve been hurt, Hoffman Law Firm’s personal injury attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve. We’ll help ensure you receive the medical care you need, then provide the guidance and legal counsel you need in the days ahead. We’ll even handle all communication with the insurance company!

The experienced lawyers at Hoffman Law Firm have handled a wide variety of personal injury cases – and we’re eager to hear about yours. Call today to schedule your free consultation!

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