Common Terms You'll Hear in a Personal Injury Case

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Common Terms You'll Hear in a Personal Injury Case

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After you have been hurt in an accident that someone else caused, you have a right to seek compensation from them through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. This process can be overwhelming for a variety of reasons, namely because you are going against a defendant or an insurance company who is highly motivated to keep from paying you what you are rightfully owed. This is why it is so important that you hire an attorney as soon as possible. In fact, hiring a lawyer before filing your insurance claim is one of the best steps that you can take early on. 

The following are some of the common terms that you will hear in a personal injury case, although this is a very limited list. As you work with your attorney, make sure that you ask them to clarify terms or guidelines that you do not understand, so that you can keep your stress low as you focus on recovery. Finding a lawyer can be a very overwhelming first step to take, so visit to be connected with an attorney through a referral network and save yourself the extra stress.

Common Personal Injury Terms


These are the actual payments that a defendant makes to the plaintiff following a personal injury, and are based on various factors that determine the final amount of damages that are paid. In most cases, these payments are cash amounts.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the basic damages of a personal injury, and include any loss or injury that has a measurable dollar value attached to it. They include things like medical bills, lost wages, assistive services hired, and anything else that comes with a receipt.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are the types of damages that a victim suffers after an accident that DO NOT have measurable dollar values attached to them. They include things like the possible depression and trauma that come with a serious accident. Since it is not as simple as adding up total dollar amounts, an attorney will need to take additional steps to find a fair amount of compensation for these damages.


Liability is the term for the actual responsibility that a defendant has for causing an accident and the resultant injuries. This is a central issue to any personal injury case, because if you and your lawyers are unable to prove that the defendant has liability for your injuries, then you have no legal grounds to seek compensation from them.

Pain and Suffering

"Pain and suffering" is one of the many non-economic damages that you and your attorney will work to calculate as you are building your case and determining the amount of money that you are rightfully owed. There is no dollar value to the pain of an injury, but there are a range of methods that an experienced personal injury lawyer will use to reach a fair number.


A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant on the terms of payment for the accident without needing to rely on the courts. It is often preferable for both parties to reach a settlement agreement instead of relying on a judge or jury to make a ruling for a variety of reasons: trials are time-consuming and expensive, and the details of the case (and the award amount) are made public in a trial, which often makes for bad PR for the defendant.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the amount of time that a victim has to file a lawsuit. Once the statute has expired, there is little to no recourse for a victim of a personal injury. Although it may seem that you have plenty of time with a 2, 3, or 4-year statute of limitations, this time is best used negotiating for a settlement, so it is important that you act quickly to initiate your process no matter what.

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