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Personal Injury Terms

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It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with some common legal terms before you meet with an auto accident lawyer. Here are a few that Kryder Law’s team recommends:

Arbitration: In arbitration, the disputing parties agree to let a third-party review the evidence and come to a decision about the case before it goes to court. The parties are legally bound to uphold the arbitrator’s decision and it will also be upheld in court.

Consortium: A consortium claim is available to family members of someone gravely injured or killed in an accident. This type of claim allows family members to seek compensation for the loss of the benefits of a familial relationship, including affection, companionship, financial support, and cooperation. The two forms of consortium are spousal and parental.

  • A spousal claim can be filed by a spouse whose partner has been severely injured or killed by another person’s wrongful acts or negligence.
  • A parental claim can be filed by children whose parent(s) has been severely injured or killed by another person’s wrongful acts or negligence.

Damages: Damages are the legal term for harm suffered by an individual. There are three basic types: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

  • Economic damages refer to harm that has a specific cost, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Non-economic damages refer to emotional harm, such as mental anguish and suffering, or physical harm.
  • Punitive damages are designed to punish someone for wrongful actions. A person who was willfully impaired or acting recklessly can be subject to punitive damages.

Deposition: A deposition is information gathered under oath from a witness or other person involved in the case. The person deposed answers questions asked by a lawyer and a court reporter creates a transcription. Depositions are a form of discovery.

Discovery: Discovery is the process of gathering evidence for a trial. It can include depositions as well as requests for specific documents or objects.

Expedited Claim: An expedited claim is a civil action where the money judgement is generally $75,000 or less. Every aspect of the claim is expedited: the discovery process is simplified and the jury is limited to six people or may even be a non-jury trial. In general, it is less expensive for litigants and quicker than a traditional civil suit.

Mediation: Mediation is similar to arbitration in that two parties rely on a neutral third-party for help in resolving their dispute; however, a mediation decision is not legally binding. In mediation, the disputing parties present their cases in a nonconfrontational way and the mediator helps them understand the strengths, weaknesses, and risks associated with their case.

Negligence: Negligence is when a person acts below the general standard of care that society feels is appropriate. Under the law, everyone is expected to act reasonably in a given situation.

Non-jury Trial: Both parties must agree to a non-jury trial. In a non-jury trial, the judge is responsible for making both factual and legal determinations and both parties agree to abide by his or her judgement.

Personal Injury: Personal injury is any injury to the body, mind, or feelings of a person, as opposed to injury to a piece of property.

Proximate Cause: The proximate cause is the primary cause of an injury. Without the proximate cause, the injury could not have happened. It is sometimes known as the “legal cause.”

Small Claims: In small claims court, private litigants can bring civil suit against each other, with the award being no more than $5,000 in any case. Both parties can cross-examine each other and the ruling is decided by an Associate District Court Judge rather than a jury.

Standard Non-expedited Claims: This is when a person or organization (such as a company or government office), also known as the plaintiff, makes a claim that another party has failed to perform a legal duty owed the plaintiff. In such cases, the plaintiff may seek a legal or fair remedy.

Statute of Limitations: This term refers to the time limit on bringing a case to court. Typically, for personal injuries, the statute of limitations is two years. However, there are exceptions, so it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer about your particular case.

Tort: A tort is wrongful conduct or negligence that results in injury to another person.

Traditional Jury Trial: In a traditional jury trial, a jury decides the factual aspects of a case and makes the final judgement. A judge instructs the jury on any legal issues that arise during the course of the case.

Wrongful Death: Wrongful death occurs when someone’s death is caused by another person or organization’s negligence or wrongful conduct.