4 Legal Terms In Injury Law

Sometimes, when clients go to talk to personal injury lawyers, they may not really be sure what the law firm is talking about. There are many factors in a case that are beyond the layperson's common understanding. To get a little more savvy about the terms involved, check out this list of critical issues in a personal injury case that are often discussed using this terminology.

Punitive and Compensatory Damages

Punitive and compensatory damages are two different types of awards in injury law. Compensatory damages are the ones that the victim is concerned with. These are the damages that a defendant must pay to cover things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive compensation, on the other hand, is set by a court differently. Punitive awards are supposed to prevent a recurrence of the negligence in question. In other words, it's a kind of legal punishment of the defendant.

Statute of Limitations

This common term is sometimes misunderstood. A statute of limitations just means there's a timeline to apply to a case. It also means if the case isn't filed by the deadline, it may be thrown out by courts.

Preponderance of Evidence

In many injury cases, lawyers are called upon to present a "preponderance of evidence" to support their client's claims. The preponderance of evidence means that over 50% of the evidence in court must support a certain party's claim of what happened. In an injury case, it often revolves around whether negligence can be proven on the part of the defendant.

Contributory Negligence

Another big issue with injury law involves the responsibility of the injury victims themselves. First, there's the burden of proving the defendant was negligent. But then there may also be the burden of proving that the plaintiff was not negligent. In other words, if the injury victim had any liability for the accident, it may jeopardize the case.

With this in mind, lawyers may often talk about an "equation of negligence." They must evaluate whether a case meets all of the criteria for repelling a contributory negligence defense under federal, state and local law. They must figure out whether the defendant can be proven negligent, and whether the plaintiff can be proven not to have been negligent.

A basic understanding of these types of terminology can help an injury victim who's securing legal advice from an injury law firm. Although good injury lawyers always explain a case fully to their clients, having an initial knowledge can help someone feel more confident about bringing an injury case through courts.