The fact that you are interested in learning more about a personal injury lawsuit probably means that you have been involved in an accident of some type. You don’t want to be known as “that” person. You know the one — the person people will call “sue happy” and point fingers at. The truth of the matter is this: If you have been injured in an accident that was the result of someone’s error or negligence, you have every right to seek compensation. No one should experience financial difficulty or setback because of events out of their control, nor should you feel guilty for doing so.
When you begin researching personal injury lawsuits, you will be presented with dozens of terms. Some are legalize that it seems as though only attorneys would understand. This isn’t the case. While these certainly may be terms you are unfamiliar with, they aren’t difficult to learn. Here are several key terms that you may come across in your readings, while speaking to other victims or even when talking to an experienced lawyer.
You are the plaintiff. As the victim, you will be filing the lawsuit and naming someone as responsible for compensating you. In personal injury lawsuits, and any other lawsuit, the person or party that files suit is the plaintiff.
The person or parties named in the lawsuit is the defendant or are the defendants. These are the people that are alleged to have caused the accident and, ultimately, the injury or property damage. The plaintiff will be working to prove to a judge or jury that these are the people who caused the damage.
A personal injury lawsuit is initiated when a plaintiff files a complaint. This is a formal expression of your intent to pursue compensation. A complaint must be filed with the appropriate court in the jurisdiction in which the accident occurred.
No, you won’t be praying in hopes of obtaining compensation. This is simply a term that means you are including the desired monetary award in the complaint.
When a person files a lawsuit in court, the defendant must answer that suit. The will notify the court of their position with regards to the allegation of fault. An answer must typically be filed within a specific time frame, which will be detailed in the service of the complaint.
In order for a personal injury lawsuit to be heard in court, the complaint must be filed within the statute of limitations. This is a time frame that is set by law and can vary from case to case. In general, there is a statute of limitations of two to three years in a personal injury lawsuit. That means that you must file your complaint within two to three years of the incident.
A wrongful act that is not considered a crime is a tort. Trespass, wrongful death, negligence and libel are all considered torts. Civil assault and battery is another example of a tort.
This is the all-important element of a personal injury case. Negligence arises when someone behaved or acted in a way that a reasonable person would not. In other words, the person was careless. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty or obligation and that that duty was breached in some way. The plaintiff will also need to prove that injury or damage was directly caused by that breach.
As in all legal cases, the plaintiff has the duty of proof. This means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent, and that the defendant does not have to prove that they weren’t negligent. This is commonly known as innocent until proven guilty.
The term damages does not explain what many people think. When you hear the word damages in a personal injury case, you are not being told about property damage. Instead, you are being told what is being sought. For example, a plaintiff may seek economic and non-economic damages in a personal injury case. This is compensation by way of money that the plaintiff hopes to gain.
Many states subscribe to the idea of contributory negligence. This means that the judge or jury will work to determine if the plaintiff is at least partially at-fault for their injuries. If they are found to have had a part in the accident, even a minor part, they will be held negligent as well. The amount of damages awarded may be reduced by the percentage it is determined that they contributed to the accident.
If you have been injured in an accident in West Palm Beach, we are happy to speak with you at a free consultation. We will explain more about how personal injury cases work and review the details of your accident. You may be entitled to compensation for injury and property damage. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.