Being involved in a personal injury case is a lot to take in – and understanding the law terms that come with it is no easy feat. That is why it is necessary to talk to a personal injury lawyer who can explain your situation, lead you through the process, and help you get compensation for your injuries.
As you pursue your case, you will encounter a lot of law terms that you may be unfamiliar with. Yes, your lawyer will help you and guide you every step of the way. However, knowing some of the basic legal terms can make things a little easier.
In our previous blog, we discussed the definitions of 10 commonly used but misunderstood legal terms. Now, we are here to add some more law terms to your vocabulary!
Bad faith. It can be described when someone you are supposed to trust acts dishonestly, and does not treat you fairly. In personal injury cases, insurance providers sometimes act in bad faith. An insured person may file a claim against their insurance company for denying or delaying benefits without any valid reason. Another instance of a bad faith is when an insurer refuses to pay out a claim without a good reason.
Occupier’s liability. In this context, the owner or person in charge of a place is responsible for making sure the place is reasonably safe for people who are likely to be there. The owner or occupier of the property has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the safety of the people who visit their premises. A victim who got injured on a property may file an ‘Occupier’s Liability Claim’ in court to seek compensation for the injuries they sustained if the property is deemed to be unsafe. Common examples of occupiers are malls, restaurants, and condo buildings.
General damages, also known as, pain and suffering. These refer to the physical and emotional pain and mental anguish a victim experiences as a result of their personal injury. General damages are intangible and do not have specific monetary values assigned to them. These include loss of companionship, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Contingency fee. A fee that is only payable when the lawyer secures a settlement for their client. It is a percentage of the winning compensation or award given to your attorney at the end of your personal injury case. When your lawyer is working for a contingency fee, you usually do not need to pay them anything up front to hire them for your case.
Liability. It is the legal responsibility for an injury. Most personal injury cases involve the negligence of another person and that action causes an injury. Liability in personal injury cases refers to the responsibility of a person or an entity to pay damages to the victim for their negligence.
Negligence. It is the failure to act with reasonable care or an unreasonable action that results in damage or harm to another person. A negligent party does not meet the standard or level of care, as required by law, for the safety of other people.
Deposition/Examination for discovery. This is an essential step to take after a lawsuit has been issued. It is a pre-trial process that allows opposing parties to obtain information or evidence under oath. This involves an exchange of documents and an in-person or virtual questioning period.
Mediation. This refers to a legal process where parties have the opportunity to settle a legal dispute through negotiation with a mediator. A mediator is a person with experience mediating similar disputes. The mediator tries to bring both parties together to negotiate and resolve the case. Mediation commonly takes place after depositions/examinations for discovery. The most common question the victim asks a lawyer is, “will I have to answer more questions about my case?”. The answer is no. At mediation, your lawyer does most of the talking.
Trial. It is a formal proceeding of a legal issue in court. At the trial, a judge and/or a jury will rule on the personal injury case based on evidence gathered and presented. A plaintiff typically loses their right to make the final call on what to settle their case for. At the end of a trial, the judge and/or jury will make their own decision about the worth of a case based on the evidence before them. However, Forbes reported that only 4% to 5% of personal injury cases go all the way to trial.
These are just some of the legal terms that you need to know. Still, personal injury cases are complicated. So if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness or intentional wrongdoing, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you.