Legal Lowdown: Understanding Personal Injury Terminology

Most legal terminology is complex and difficult to understand without explanation. Personal injury cases are no exception, so we’d like to shed light on some of the most frequently used terminologies in connection with this type of case. If you are going through a personal injury case for the first time in Virginia, much of this may be new to you, so read on.

Frequently Used Personal Injury Case Terms in Virginia

Statute of Limitations: This is the amount of time prescribed by law for a plaintiff to be able to file a lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations has elapsed, the injured party can no longer take legal action. While the timing varies for each state, in Maryland, it is three years from the date of the injury.

Verdict: This is the case’s outcome determined by a judge or jury’s decision.

Workers’ Compensation: Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover injured employees for economic losses suffered due to a job-related injury or illness. The mandatory insurance enables a claim to be filed by a worker who is hurt while on the job.

Preponderance of Evidence: This is the amount of evidence a plaintiff needs to win a civil case. A preponderance of evidence means that the evidence you present proves something is more likely than not. It is the easiest to obtain standard of proof because only just over 50% in favor of the plaintiff proves their claim is more likely to be true than untrue.

Contingency Fee: Rather than an hourly or fixed fee, a contingency fee is paid to an attorney when they are successful in making a recovery on behalf of his client. The lawyer receives a percentage of the verdict or settlement, which is usually discussed in the first meeting with the attorney. Typically, if the lawyer is unsuccessful, no fee is charged to the client.

Tort: A tort is a negligent or wrongful act committed by one person that causes an injury to another for which an action for damages may be brought for legal liability. 

Compensation: Also referred to as an award, compensation is the goal of most personal injury claims. The amount of compensation a plaintiff receives directly correlates to the damages suffered.

Liability: The responsibility of one party for another party’s damages is their liability. If a defendant is “liable” in a personal injury case, they usually are the ones that will have to pay damages to the plaintiff. Being liable refers to the individual being held accountable for wrong actions.

Plaintiff: The person in a personal injury case seeking compensation, the injured one. A plaintiff is an individual who alleges that the defendant has caused harm and is liable for the resulting damages and injuries.

Negligence: An unreasonable action or failure to act that harms another party. For example, suppose a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, and it is determined that the driver was texting while driving and therefore distracted. In that case, the woman was injured due to the driver’s negligence.

Have You Been Injured? Let Us Help!

If you have been injured and feel you may have a personal injury case in, please contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp immediately to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys. We can review the details of your case and guide you through the process. Our expert staff will ensure you never feel confused or overwhelmed as your case moves through the legal system.