If you have been consulting with a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer trusts, for your personal injury lawsuit, you may have been exposed to some key legal terms that you may not fully understand. This is because the law, in many ways, has its own language. Legal terminology can be confusing to the average person, but it serves its purpose just as any professional language by allowing lawyers a more clear, concise and efficient method of communicating. By learning some key legal terms in a personal injury lawsuit, you will have a better understanding of what is going on both with your case, and the law.

A personal injury lawsuit is when one person suffered an injury due to the fault of another party. The injured person(s) will hire a personal injury attorney in order to receive compensation from the party or parties at fault. Although the plaintiff sues the defendant (a person), it is often the insurance company of the liable party which is primarily responsible for providing monetary compensation. Some of the most common types of personal injuries for which people hire lawyers are car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, etc. Personal injury lawsuits are conducted in civil court, which means that instead of “crimes” being committed, there are civil wrongs done by people or business entities to other people called “torts”.

When a party fails to abide by the law and causes an accident resulting in injury to others, they have committed a tort. A tort refers to a civil wrong committed by either a person or business entity that causes unjust suffering to another person.  The tortfeasor, or one who commits the tort, is the party which is often being sued in a personal injury lawsuit. The burden of proving whether or not the tortfeasor is liable for your injuries is your lawyer’s job as this is the heart of a personal injury lawsuit.

Negligence is the most common tort as well as one of the most common civil “causes of action”, or legal reasons why you are able to take someone to civil (as opposed to criminal) court. Essentially, the law of negligence requires for people to conduct themselves in a way so that harm to themselves or others is avoided at all costs in order to avoid committing the tort of negligence. Negligence is based on the “reasonable person standard”, which refers to a hypothetical person in society who acts with a standard of average consideration and judgment. The reasonable person standard is a tool in law that is used in many instances when referring to what the normal person of average intelligence would do in a specific situation. When people cause an accident or injury to others because they fail to abide by their duty to act with reasonable attention or care, they are considered as having committed the tort of negligence.

For the average person, legal jargon can create extreme confusion and may increase the stress involved with a personal injury lawsuit. By understanding some of the basic terms, you can increase your confidence while speaking with a lawyer.