Personal Injury Glossary and Related Terms

Home | Personal Injury Glossary and Related Terms

Throughout our website, blog and legal library you’ll find detailed information to help you become acquainted with nearly any personal injury subject. We hope this glossary is a useful resource for looking up simple definitions of the words you’ll see on our site or elsewhere.

Use the navigation below to quickly find a word by skipping to the appropriate section.



Abstract of Title

An abstract of title is a brief summary of the ownership history of a piece of real property. The summary includes all conveyances, encumbrances, and other instruments that are recorded in the public records and pertain to the property. The purpose of an abstract of title is to give the reader a quick overview of the property’s history and to identify any potential problems that may exist with the title.


The unexpected and unintentional result of a damaging or injury-causing incident.

Accident Insurance

Accident insurance is a type of insurance where the policy holder is compensated in the event of an accident that leads to injury. The insured can use the benefit payment however they wish. Accident insurance is complementary, not a replacement, for health insurance.

Ad Litem

An “ad litem” is a Latin phrase meaning “for the lawsuit.” In personal injury law, an ad litem is a person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a minor or legally incompetent person in a civil lawsuit. The ad litem may be a lawyer but does not have to be.

The selection of an ad litem is an important decision that should be made carefully. The ad litem will investigate the facts of the case and make recommendations to the court about what he or she believes is in the child’s best interests or incompetent person.

Accident Report

An accident report is a document filed by the police or other law enforcement agency that describes an accident. It usually includes the names and contact information of the parties involved and a brief description of what happened. Accident reports can be useful in personal injury cases, providing evidence of negligence or other wrongdoing.

Act of God

An “act of God” is a natural disaster that occurs without any human intervention, such as a tornado or earthquake. This type of event is usually not covered by insurance policies, since it is considered an unforeseeable and unpreventable event. If you have been injured in an act of God, you may still be able to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.


To make a judgment on a disputed matter. It can be a formal or informal resolution of a legal case.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

This refers to methods of resolving disputes outside of the courtroom. Common types of ADR include mediation and arbitration.


A formal, legal response filed by a defendant to reasonably respond to a complaint.


To ask a higher court to overturn the decision of a trial court, which one party does not agree with.


Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution that takes place outside of court. In arbitration, a neutral third party (the arbitrator) hears both sides of the dispute and then renders a decision. This decision is binding on both parties, and can often be enforced through court orders.

Arbitration can be either binding or non-binding. In binding arbitration, both parties agree in advance to accept the arbitrator’s decision as final and binding. Non-binding arbitration means that either party can choose to reject the arbitrator’s decision and instead go to trial.

If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, it’s important to understand all your options for resolving the dispute. Arbitration may be an option worth considering, especially if you want to avoid going to trial.

Assignment of Benefits

An “assignment of benefits” is when an insurance company is directed to pay the benefits of a policy directly to a third party, such as a healthcare provider, rather than to the policyholder. This can be done for various reasons, but is often done in cases where the policyholder has been injured and is unable to work, or when there are liens against the policyholder’s property.

Assumption of Risk

When an individual is harmed in an accident, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. However, there are certain situations where the injured party may not be able to recover damages even if they win their case. This is because of the legal doctrine of assumption of risk.

Under this doctrine, an individual who is injured while engaging in a dangerous activity cannot sue the responsible party if they knew (or should have known) that there was a risk of injury involved. For example, if someone is hurt while skydiving, they would not be able to sue the skydiving company even if the company was at fault for the accident. This is because skydiving is an inherently dangerous activity, and anyone who participates in it knows (or should know) that there is a risk of injury involved.

There are some exceptions to this doctrine, however. For example, if the dangerous activity was created by the negligence of the responsible party (such as a faulty zip-line), then the individual may still be able to sue for damages. Additionally, if the individual can prove that they were forced to participate in the dangerous activity against their will (such as being required to skydive as part of a military training exercise), then they may also be able to sue for damages.

Attorney-Client Privilege

The attorney-client privilege is a legal principle that protects communications between a client and his or her lawyer. The privilege is designed to encourage full and frank communication between lawyers and their clients, so that clients can feel free to discuss their case openly without fear of the information being used against them.

The attorney-client privilege is one of the most important principles in our legal system, and it is essential for personal injury lawyers to understand how it works. Here are some key points about the attorney-client privilege:

1. The attorney-client privilege applies only to communications between a client and his or her lawyer – it does not extend to other people who may be involved in the case, such as witnesses or expert witnesses.

2. The attorney-client privilege is an absolute privilege – meaning that it cannot be waived, even if the client wants to waive it.

3. The attorney-client privilege is protected by law – if it is breached, the court may take action against the person who breached it, including imposing sanctions or ordering them to pay damages.

4. The attorney-client privilege can be “waived” in certain circumstances – for example, if the communication is made in furtherance of a crime or fraud, or if the client waives the privilege through his or her own conduct (such as by discussing the contents of privileged communications with third parties).

Average Daily Wage (ADW)

The Average Daily Wage, or ADW, is a calculation of an injured employee’s daily income, which is sometimes used to determine entitlement to wage loss benefits following an injury. AWW might not be accurate for calculating the percentage of income that will be replaced after an injury.


Bad Faith Claim

When an insurance provider unreasonably denies or delays your claim, or they refuse to pay out a full insurance claim without cause, that’s considered bad faith. Insured people file “bad faith” claims when their claim is denied, but they feel it should have been covered.


A benefit is something that a party receives from an employer, insurance company, or social program such as social security during their time of disability or unemployment. Examples of benefits include financial assistance or compensation for wages that the person has lost.

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury refers to physical harm that is caused to a person’s body. This can include cuts, bruises, broken bones, and more serious injuries like concussions or paralysis. Bodily injury can be caused by accidents, violence, or medical malpractice. If you have suffered bodily injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to recover damages.

Burden of Proof

In a civil case, the burden of proof is the obligation to prove that the assertions or charges against the defendant are more likely true than not. The plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of evidence, which means that it is more likely than not that the allegations are true.



Causation is an important element in many personal injury cases. In order to prove causation, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. This can be difficult to do, as there may be other factors that contributed to the accident or injury. For example, if a car accident was caused by both speeding and wet weather, it may be difficult to determine which factor was more responsible for the accident. In these cases, causation must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the accident or injury.

Claim Adjuster

When you file a personal injury claim, your insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The claims adjuster is responsible for investigating your claim and negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.

If you’re not satisfied with the insurance company’s settlement offer, you can hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you in negotiations with the claims adjuster. If you can’t reach a settlement with the claims adjuster, your case will go to trial.

Class-action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit is a civil suit brought by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a larger group, or “class,” of similarly situated people. The class is usually defined in the complaint, which also names the defendants. Sometimes, however, the court will define the class later in the proceedings.

Class actions are designed to offer a fair and efficient way to resolve claims that affect many people. They allow individuals with common interests to pool their resources and share the costs of litigation. In addition, they provide a means for redress when damages suffered by individual members of a large group are too small to justify pursuing separate lawsuits.

Most class action lawsuits are filed in federal court, but some are filed in state court. State courts have different rules governing class actions, so it’s important to consult an experienced attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim and where you should file it.

Comparative Negligence

If you are partially at fault for your injuries, you may still be able to recover damages under a theory of comparative negligence or fault. In many states, if you are found to be less than 50 percent at fault, you can still recover damages from the other parties responsible for your injuries. However, the amount of your damages may be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 40 percent at fault and your total damages are $10,000, you would only be able to recover $6,000 from the other parties.


“Compensation” is the sum of money paid to an injured person in exchange for the damages they have suffered. This can include payments for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded in order to punish the liable party and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are the primary form of damages available in a personal injury lawsuit. These damages are designed to compensate the injured plaintiff for their losses, and can include both economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic damages are those that have a specific monetary value attached to them, such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are more subjective in nature, and can include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium.

In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. These are designed to punish the defendant for their actions, and are usually only awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious.

Compensatory damages are meant to make the plaintiff whole again after an injury, but they can never completely undo the harm that has been done.


A complaint is the first step in filing a personal injury lawsuit. It’s a formal document that alleges that another party is responsible for your injuries and outlines the damages you’re seeking. The complaint must be filed with the court, and then served on the defendant.

Once the complaint is filed, the defendant has a certain amount of time to respond. If they don’t, the court may enter a default judgment against them. The defendant can also choose to file an answer (see Answer), which denies all or some of the allegations in the complaint.

If both sides can’t reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation, the case will go to trial. At trial, each side will present evidence and testimony in support of their position. The jury will then render a verdict, which will either award damages to the plaintiff or find in favor of the defendant.

Compulsory Medical Examination

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you may be required to undergo a compulsory medical examination (CME). This is also sometimes called an independent medical examination (IME).

A CME is conducted by a doctor who is not your treating physician. The purpose of a CME is to determine the extent of your injuries and whether they are related to the accident.

You may be required to attend a CME if there is disagreement between you and the other party’s insurance company about your injuries. For example, if the insurance company believes your injuries are not as severe as you claim, they may request a CME.


A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when the head is struck or jolted. Concussions can range in severity from mild to severe, and can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and memory loss.

Contingency Fee

A contingency fee is a payment arrangement in which an attorney agrees to receive a set percentage of the money recovered from a case, rather than charging by the hour. This arrangement allows people who could not otherwise afford legal representation to have access to justice. In personal injury cases, contingency fees are usually one-third of the total recovery.


A contusion is a medical term for a bruise. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels under the skin break and leak blood. The blood then pools in the surrounding tissues, causing the familiar black-and-blue mark.

Contusions can occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on the arms and legs. Most contusions are minor injuries that heal quickly and do not require medical treatment. However, severe contusions can cause extensive damage to muscles, bones, and other tissues.



Damages are compensation recovered in a civil court case for injuries or losses due to another’s negligence. See also Compensatory Damages, Exemplary Damages, General Damages, Punitive Damages, and Special damages.

Defective Medication

Defective Medication is any medication that has done harm to a patient. Defective drug laws fall under product liability law, which means that the company supplying the medications can be held liable if they knew or should have known about its potential dangers.

Design Defects

Design defects are a type of product liability claim that alleges that a product was designed in a way that made it unreasonably dangerous. To win a design defect claim, the plaintiff must prove that the product was defective and that the defect caused their injuries.

There are three types of design defects:

1. Defective products – This type of defect means that the product itself is dangerous or poorly made and does not function as it should. For example, if a piece of furniture collapses unexpectedly, this would be considered a defective product.

2. Inadequate warnings – This type of defect occurs when a product does not have adequate warnings about its potential dangers. For example, if a chemical is not properly labeled as poisonous, this would be considered an inadequate warning.

3. Improper instructions – This type of defect happens when a product comes with incorrect or unclear instructions, making it difficult to use safely. For example, if an electrical appliance comes with confusing wiring diagrams, this would be considered improper instructions.


A person against whom a civil suit or criminal prosecution is brought.

Demand Letter

A demand letter is a document outlining the reasons for an impending legal action. It is used to formally request restitution or performance of some obligation, owing to the recipient’s alleged breach of contract.


A deposition is a formal process where a witness is asked questions by an attorney, in order to obtain evidence for use in a trial. A deposition can be used to gather information about an accident, or to get testimony from an expert witness. The questioning is done under oath, and the answers are recorded by a court reporter. Depositions are generally only used when there is some dispute about what happened, and they can be very useful in helping to sort out the facts of a case.


Reduced earning capacity or inability to work usually due to the loss of physical abilities. This can happen as a result of injury or degenerative disease.


This refers to the process of exchanging information between the parties in a lawsuit. The purpose of disclosure is to allow each party to have all of the relevant information so that they can prepare their case.


Discovery is the formal process of gathering evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. During discovery, each party has the opportunity to request information and documents from the other side. This process can be used to uncover new information that may support your case or to find out more about the other party’s version of events.

Discovery can be conducted in a number of ways, including written requests for information (called interrogatories), requests for production of documents, and depositions (oral questions under oath). In some cases, parties may also agree to conduct voluntary discovery, where they exchange information without having to go through the formal discovery process.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from the primary task of driving. All distractions pose a risk to driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety.

There are three main types of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off the road. Manual distractions take the driver’s hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mind off the task of driving.

Texting while driving is perhaps the most well-known form of distracted driving. It combines all three types of distraction, making it especially dangerous. Other forms of distracted driving include talking on the phone, eating or drinking, fiddling with navigation or entertainment systems, attending to children or pets in the car, and rubbernecking (looking at accidents or other interesting sights).

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

The act of driving, operating, or being in control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you do this, you won’t be able to operate your vehicle in a safe manner.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is the legal obligation that one party has to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another party. In the context of personal injury law, this means that a person who owed you a duty of care must have acted reasonably to avoid injuring you. If they did not, and you were injured as a result, then they may be liable for your damages.


Emergency Medical Condition (EMC)

An emergency medical condition (EMC) is an illness or injury that requires immediate medical attention. Emergency medical conditions can be life-threatening and require immediate treatment.

Symptoms of an emergency medical condition include, but are not limited to:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness

Excess Judgement

When a court awards a personal injury plaintiff more money than what was asked for in the original lawsuit, this is called an “excess judgment.” In some cases, the excess judgment may be due to the jury awarding punitive damages. However, it could also be the result of the court finding that the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious and warrants a higher award than what was originally requested.

Exemplary Damages

Exemplary damages are also known as punitive damages and are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct. They are awarded in addition to compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for their actual losses. Exemplary damages are usually only awarded in cases of gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.

Exhaustion of Benefits

In personal injury law, “exhaustion of benefits” refers to the point at which an injured person’s insurance benefits have been used up. Once this happens, the injured person is responsible for any further costs incurred related to their injuries.

There are many different types of benefits that can be exhausted, including medical benefits, income replacement benefits, and death benefits. The exact point at which each type of benefit is exhausted will depend on the terms of the policy and the state in which the accident occurred.

Once an injured person has reached the exhaustion of benefits point, they may still be able to recover damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. However, if they are unable to do so, they will be responsible for all future costs related to their injuries.

Expert Witness

When an individual is seeking damages in a personal injury lawsuit, their attorney may call upon expert witnesses to help prove their case. An expert witness is a person who has specialized knowledge in a particular area and can provide testimony about the facts of the case. This testimony can be crucial in helping to prove liability and damages.


Failure to Warn

If a company or individual has knowledge of a dangerous condition on their property, and they fail to warn visitors of the danger, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result. This is known as “failure to warn.” For example, if there is a loose step on a staircase and the property owner knows about it but does not warn visitors, they can be held liable if someone is injured as a result.


Fault can be defined as legal responsibility for an injury. It is determined by looking at who was careless or negligent. In some cases, more than one person may be at fault. For example, if two drivers collide, each may be assigned a percentage of the blame.

Field Adjuster

A field adjuster is an insurance company representative who investigates insurance claims and assesses damages. He or she works with policyholders, claimants, witnesses, and attorneys to determine the extent of the insurer’s liability.

First-Party Claims

A first-party claim is a type of insurance claim made by the policyholder for injuries or damages covered by their policy. First-party claims are typically made through the policyholder’s own insurance company, and can include claims for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.


Fraud is a type of deception that occurs when someone deliberately misleads another person in order to gain an advantage. Fraud can take many forms, including false advertising, identity theft, and embezzlement. If you have been the victim of fraud, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the person or company responsible.


General Damages

General damages are those which do not have a specific dollar amount attached to them and are more difficult to quantify. These types of damages may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. In some cases, general damages can also include punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for their negligence.

Good Faith

Good faith generally refers to an honest belief or intention. In the context of personal injury law, good faith may be relevant in determining whether or not someone acted negligently. If someone acted in good faith, they may not be held liable for damages even if their actions resulted in injury.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a legal term that describes conduct on the part of a person that is so reckless or careless that it demonstrates a total disregard for the safety of others. Gross negligence is often said to be equivalent to willful or wanton misconduct.

In order to recover damages based on gross negligence, plaintiffs must prove not only that the defendant’s actions were negligent, but also that the defendant knew or should have known that his or her actions could result in harm to others and chose to act anyway. This standard is higher than simply proving that the defendant was negligent.

Gross negligence can be proven by circumstantial evidence, such as where the defendant was acting in a particularly dangerous manner or failed to take precautions that any reasonable person would have taken in similar circumstances. It can also be proven by direct evidence, such as where the defendant made an admission about his or her state of mind at the time of the accident.



A hazard is anything that can cause harm or damage to someone. In the context of personal injury law, hazards can include everything from dangerous products to unsafe work conditions.

Hazardous Exposure

When it comes to personal injury law, hazardous exposure refers to a situation where someone is exposed to a dangerous or potentially harmful substance. This can include things like asbestos, lead, or chemicals. Hazardous exposure can also refer to exposure to extreme cold or heat.

In some cases, hazardous exposure can lead to serious health problems, including cancer.

Health Care Expenses

Medical expenses can cost you a lot of money. Medical expenses include going to the doctor or hospital, paying for prescriptions, and insurance premiums. This includes visiting a clinic or a pharmacy, paying out of pocket at the time of purchase (co-pay), and insurance from both government and private institutions.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires covered entities to maintain the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI). Covered entities include health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards for the protection of PHI. The HIPAA Security Rule establishes national standards for the security of electronic PHI.


Income Replacement Benefits (IRBs)

Payments made to someone who has been disabled and can no longer work.

Independent Medical Examination

An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical assessment of an injured person conducted by a doctor who is not treating the individual. IME doctors are often hired by insurance companies to provide an objective opinion about the extent of an injury and whether it is related to a particular event, such as a car accident.

During an IME, the doctor will take a complete medical history and conduct a physical examination. The doctor may also order tests, such as x-rays or MRIs, to further assess the injury. Once the IME is complete, the doctor will provide a written report detailing their findings.

If you have been injured in an accident and are seeking compensation from an insurance company, you may be required to submit to an IME. It is important to remember that the purpose of an IME is not to treat your injuries; rather, it is simply to provide information that can be used by the insurance company in making its decision about your claim.


One party—the insurer—agrees to reimburse another—the insured—for damage or injury caused by certain hazards or dangers, in exchange for a reoccurring fee (called a premium). This relationship exists through contractual agreements.


An insurer is a company that provides insurance. Insurance is a contract between an individual and an insurer in which the insurer agrees to pay the insured person or organization a sum of money in exchange for the insured person or organization’s agreement to pay the insurer if certain events occur.


The term “insured” refers to the person or entity that has purchased insurance coverage.


Interrogatories are questions that must be answered in writing and under oath by the party to a lawsuit who is required to respond. The interrogatories are usually prepared by the attorney for the party initiating the lawsuit, although sometimes they are jointly prepared by both attorneys.

The questions contained in interrogatories can be very specific, and can cover a wide range of topics related to the case. They can ask about events that happened leading up to the accident, medical treatment received, any witnesses to the accident, and anything else that might be relevant to the case.



A judgment is a court’s decision in a lawsuit. After hearing all the evidence and arguments from both sides, the judge will issue a judgment. If you win your lawsuit, the judgment will be in your favor. The other side will be ordered to pay you damages. If you lose your lawsuit, the judgment will be against you.

In some cases, the judge may not issue a final judgment right away. Instead, the judge may issue a “partial” or “interim” judgment. This happens when the judge decides that one side should receive some or all of the damages claimed, but more information is needed before a final decision can be made.

Once a judgment is issued, it is final. That means that neither side can appeal it or change it. However, there are some limited circumstances where a party can ask the court to modify or set aside a judgment. For example, if new evidence comes to light that was not available at the time of trial, or if there was some type of mistake in the way the judgment was calculated, then a party might be able to get the judgment modified.

Jury Instructions

Jury instructions are the set of rules to the jury before they begin deliberating. These instructions define the parameters of the jury’s deliberations and guide them in their decision-making process.

The judge will typically read the instructions aloud to the jury, and they will be provided with a written copy to refer to during deliberations. The instructions will cover a wide range of topics, including the burden of proof, standard of proof, and types of damages that can be awarded.


Known Loss Rule

The “known loss rule” is a legal doctrine that says a person cannot sue for damages if they knew about their injury beforehand. This rule is typically used in personal injury cases, where the plaintiff (the person suing) knew they were injured before the accident happened. For example, if someone breaks their arm and then gets in a car accident, they can’t sue for damages from the car accident because they knew about their broken arm beforehand.


Lawsuit, or Suit

A lawsuit is a civil action brought in court in which one party sues another for damages. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is the injured party who is suing the defendant, who is usually the person or entity responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Legal Malpractice

When a lawyer is negligent, breaches fiduciary duty, or breaches contract during the provision of legal services and causes harm to the client.

Letter of Protection

A letter of protection is a document that is designed to assist someone who has been injured due to another’s carelessness. It allows the injured person to obtain medical treatment, even though they may have difficulty paying for it themselves.


Liability is the legal responsibility for damages or losses that one party may incur. In a personal injury case, liability typically refers to the at-fault party and their insurance company. The at-fault party is the person or entity who caused the plaintiff’s injuries, either through negligence or intentional wrongdoing.

The at-fault party’s insurance company will be liable for any damages that their policyholder is found to owe the plaintiff. Insurance companies are usually much more willing to negotiate a fair settlement with the plaintiff than the at-fault party themselves. This is because it is in the insurance company’s best interest to minimize their financial exposure in the event of a trial.

The term “liability” can also refer to any potential financial responsibility that one party may have in a given situation. For example, if you are involved in a car accident, you may be held liable for any damage to the other driver’s vehicle, even if it was not your fault. In this case, your auto insurance would typically cover these damages.

Limitation of Risk

The maximum amount an insurer or reinsurer can be obligated to pay in any one claim or event.


A litigant is an individual who has filed a lawsuit or is involved in some other type of legal proceeding. The term can also refer to a party in a lawsuit, such as a plaintiff or defendant.


Litigation is the process of taking a legal dispute through the court system. The term can refer to any type of civil lawsuit, but it is most often used in personal injury cases.

Litigation Risk

Litigation risk is the chance that a legal dispute will result in litigation. When two parties are involved in a dispute, there is always the potential for one or both sides to file a lawsuit. The likelihood of this happening is known as the litigation risk.

There are many factors that can affect the litigation risk in a personal injury case. The severity of the injuries, the amount of money at stake, and the legal standing of the parties are all important factors. In some cases, one party may be more likely to win in court than the other, which can also affect the litigation risk.


Loss refers to any damage or harm that a person suffers. This can include physical injuries, emotional trauma, financial damages, and more. Loss can be temporary or permanent, and it can be minor or severe. When a person suffers a loss because of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, they may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is a legal term used to describe the deprivation of the benefits of a close relationship. These benefits can include love, affection, sexual relations, and companionship. Loss of consortium claims are most commonly brought by spouses who have been injured due to the negligence of another party.

Loss of Earnings

Loss of earnings means the inability to earn money through your profession or trade. It includes loss of wages, salary, or earnings of self-employed persons.



Malpractice is a type of negligence that occurs when a professional fails to provide adequate care or services to a client. This can include medical professionals, lawyers, accountants, and more. Malpractice can result in physical or financial harm to the client.


A court order, or even an oral word of direction that the court is legally empowered to make and a person must obey.

Manufacturing Defects

A “manufacturing defect” is a flaw in the design or manufacture of a product that makes it unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A manufacturing defect can occur at any stage in the production process, from the initial design to the final assembly.

There are three general types of manufacturing defects: design defects, defects in materials, and defects in assembly or manufacturing.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

When an injured person has reached maximum medical improvement, it means that their condition has stabilized and is not expected to improve any further. This is an important determination in personal injury cases, as it can help to determine the amount of damages that may be recoverable.


Mediation is a process where the two sides in a legal dispute meet with a mediator to try to settle the case. Mediation is often required by law before a case can go to trial. The mediator is a neutral third party who helps the two sides communicate and try to reach an agreement.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is defined as negligent medical treatment that results in injury or death. It can occur in any healthcare setting, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices.

Common types of medical malpractice include failure to diagnose a condition, misdiagnosis of a condition, surgical errors, birth injuries, and prescription errors.

Medical Malpractice Caps

A limit on the amount of money that can be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These limits, or caps, are intended to protect doctors and other medical professionals from being bankrupted by large jury verdicts.


Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. The primary cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral once widely used in building materials and other industrial products.

Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating circumstances are defined as any factors that may have contributed to the accident but were not necessarily the direct cause of it. For example, if you were involved in a car accident and it was later determined that one of the contributing factors was poor weather conditions, then this would be considered a mitigating circumstance.

In order for a mitigating circumstance to be taken into consideration, it must have been something that was out of your control and could not have reasonably been avoided. Additionally, it must have played some role in causing the accident.


“Motion” is a legal term used to describe the process of asking a court to make a ruling on a particular issue. This can be done either before or after a trial has begun. Motions are typically made by attorneys on behalf of their clients, but individuals can also file motions themselves.


Named Insured

The term “named insured” refers to the person or entity that is specifically named in an insurance policy. The named insured is the only party that is covered by the policy. Any other party, even if they are related to the named insured, is not covered.


Negligence is a legal term that refers to the failure to use reasonable care, which results in harm to another person. Negligence can occur in many different ways, such as when a driver fails to yield the right of way, or when a property owner fails to maintain their premises in a safe condition.


Negotiation is the process of two parties coming to an agreement. In the context of personal injury law, negotiation typically happens between the injured person (or their attorney) and the insurance company for the other party. The goal of negotiation is to reach a settlement agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

No-Duty Doctrine

The no-duty doctrine is a law principle which states that you can’t be held responsible for someone else’s injury when you don’t owe that person a duty. Duty refers to your obligation to act responsibly and follow the law, so it includes your duty of care – the legal obligation to not harm others or their property.


A type of auto insurance that provides first-party benefits for “medical expenses, loss of income, funeral expenses and similar expenses without regard to fault.” Florida is one of a few “>no-fault insurance states in the US.


A notary is a public officer who authenticates documents and administers oaths. In personal injury cases, a notary may be needed to sign and certify certain legal documents.

Notice to Insurer

This is a notice to the insurance company about an accident or incident that is going to be the basis for your claim. This document sets out all of the details and information relevant to what happened. Also called Notice to Company.


Occupational Disease

An occupational disease is a condition that is caused by exposure to hazards in the workplace. It can affect any workers who are exposed to the hazard, regardless of their occupation.

Opening Statement

In a personal injury case, the opening statement is the plaintiff’s first opportunity to present their side of the story to the jury. The opening statement will briefly introduce the parties involved in the lawsuit, explain what happened to cause the plaintiff’s injuries, and outline the relief that the plaintiff is seeking from the court.

Out-of-Court Settlement

An out-of-court settlement is when the two parties involved in a lawsuit come to an agreement without going to trial. This can happen at any point during the legal process, even after a trial has begun. The plaintiff and defendant will work together to come up with an agreeable resolution, often with the help of their attorneys. Once they have reached a deal, they will sign a settlement agreement that will be filed with the court.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Your medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your personal injury are called “special damages.” In a personal injury lawsuit, you will seek compensation for these economic losses, as well as for your “general damages,” which include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic harms.

In order to recover any compensation for your special damages, you will need to document your expenses. Be sure to keep all receipts for medical treatment, prescriptions, Mileage driven to doctor appointments, out-of-pocket costs for hiring help around the house or yard if your injuries prevent you from performing these tasks yourself, and any other related expenses. If you have been unable to work because of your injuries, you will also want to keep records of lost wages and benefits.



A paralegal is a certified professional who provides support to lawyers by carrying out research, preparing documents and managing cases. In some jurisdictions, paralegals may have limited independent authority to represent clients in certain legal matters.

Partial Disability

A disability that prevents an employee from being able to perform their duties.


There are many different types of “parties” in a personal injury case. The first type of party is the plaintiff. This is the person who has been injured and is bringing the lawsuit. The second type of party is the defendant. This is the person or company who is being sued for causing the injury to the plaintiff. The third type of party is the insurance company. In most cases, the defendant will have insurance that will pay for some or all of the damages that are awarded to the plaintiff. The fourth type of party is the lawyer. The plaintiff and defendant will each have their own lawyer to represent them in court.

Patients Rights

As a medical patient, you have certain rights called patients rights. Some rights are guaranteed by federal law; some by state law, and others are promised by specific healthcare facilities.

Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages are those that reimburse an injured party for their financial losses. This could include lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. In some cases, pecuniary damages may also include the cost of future medical care or lost earning potential.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

Permanent partial disability, also called PPD, is a designation of disability level for the purposes of workers’ compensation, a form of insurance for people injured in the workplace. A person with a PPD can still work, but not with the efficiency or skill demonstrated before their injury. It makes it more difficult for them to work and earn money. More than half of all workers’ compensation cases are designated as being PPD cases.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

Permanent total disability, also called PTD or permanent total disability, is the condition where someone is unable to work due to injuries that they have sustained. Contrasting with permanent partial disability (PPD), PTD refers to situations in which the individual may never be able to work again.

Personal Injury

Personal injury law coers all injuries, such as physical, emotional and financial, or damage to property caused by a party’s negligence.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP, is a type of no-fault insurance coverage that helps pay for your medical expenses and lost wages if you’re injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. In some states, PIP is mandatory; in others, it’s optional. If you have PIP coverage, it will usually kick in regardless of whether you have health insurance.


A plaintiff is the party who brings a lawsuit against another party. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is the injured person who is seeking damages from the person or entity that caused their injuries.


Pleading is the first stage of a personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff files a complaint with the court and serves it on the defendant. The complaint must state the facts of the case and the legal grounds for the claim. The defendant then has an opportunity to file an answer to the complaint, in which he or she can admit or deny the allegations.

Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)

PCS is a collection of symptoms that can last for weeks, months, or even years after the initial injury. Symptoms of PCS include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sleep problems, and depression.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as combat, natural disasters, car accidents, or sexual assault. Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and feeling detached or numb.

Prayer for Relief

One of the first steps in the legal process is filing a complaint, or a “prayer for relief,” also known as Demand for Relief. This document starts the lawsuit and lays out your allegations against the defendant. It also asks the court for certain types of relief, such as damages or an injunction.

Each state has its own rules about what must be included in a complaint, but there are some general elements that are usually required. These include:

  • The names and contact information of the parties involved
  • A brief description of what happened to give rise to the lawsuit
  • A statement of the specific legal claims being made against the defendant
  • A request for relief from the court


In legal terms, a precedent is a previous case that is used as an example or rule to be followed in future similar cases. The principle of stare decisis (“to stand by decided matters”) dictates that once a court has ruled on an issue, that decision should be followed in subsequent, similar cases.

There are two types of precedents: binding and persuasive. Binding precedent is required to be followed by lower courts within the same jurisdiction. Persuasive precedent is not required to be followed, but may be considered by courts when making decisions in similar cases.

Premise Liability

Premises liability arises mostly in personal injury cases, when someone has been injured because of an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property.

Preponderance of Evidence

The legal definition of “preponderance of evidence” is the greater weight of the evidence. In a civil trial, the jury is instructed that if they find that the preponderance of the evidence favors one party over the other, they should find in favor of that party.


Any filing, court appearance, or hearing related to a legal case.

Product Liability

The duty or liability, of a product’s manufacturer, distributor, retailer and so on to pay compensation to someone who has been injured as a result of being exposed to the dangers posed by the defective nature of the product.


A prognosis is the likely course of a disease or injury, and the chance of recovery. It is usually given in percentages, such as “80% chance of recovery.” The prognosis will be based on the severity of the injury and the speed of healing.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is the immediate or direct cause of an injury. It is the event that sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately leads to the injury. The proximate cause is usually the last link in the chain of causation.

Public Duty Doctrine

The public duty doctrine is a legal principle that states that a government entity such as a city or state can’t be held legally liable for an individual’s injuries if they resulted from an employee’s breach of duty owed to the public–as opposed to a particular individual.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit when the defendant’s actions are found to be particularly egregious. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. Punitive damages are not available in all states, and even when they are, they are often subject to strict limits.


Quality of Life

The standard of living a person will have after the accident or injury. When examining one’s quality of life, it is helpful to take into account how they were functioning before the incident, what all has changed for them as a result, and how they are doing now.

Qui Tam

“Qui Tam” is a legal term that refers to a suit brought by a private citizen on behalf of the government. The term comes from the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which means “he who sues in this matter does so for the king as well as for himself.” Qui tam suits are also known as “whistleblower” lawsuits because they allow individuals to blow the whistle on fraud and other wrongdoing committed against the government.

Quid Pro Quo

A quid pro quo is an arrangement where each party agrees to do something in exchange for something else. In the context of personal injury law, a quid pro quo may be offered by an insurance company in order to settle a claim. For example, the company may agree to pay the full amount of damages if the injured party agrees not to sue.


Reasonable Care

Reasonable care is the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. It is important to note that the standard of care is not based on what actually happened, but rather what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances.


Rehabilitation is the process of helping an individual regain functional ability and independence following an injury. The goal of rehabilitation is to restore the individual to their pre-injury state, or as close to it as possible.

Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological counseling. Physical therapy focuses on improving strength, flexibility, range of motion, and endurance. Occupational therapy helps the individual regain the skills necessary for daily living and work activities. Speech therapy assists with communication and swallowing difficulties. Psychological counseling can help the individual deal with the emotional aspects of their injury and recovery.

Rehabilitation typically begins soon after the injury occurs. The intensity and duration of rehabilitation will vary depending on the nature and severity of the injury. In some cases, rehabilitation may continue for months or even years.

Rehabilitation Benefits

Treatments and programs offered by private or employee-based health insurance to help an injured person recover from or alleviate the effects of their injury. This may be the intention in order to restore the person’s life back to normal, or as close as possible.


Requests are made when one party asks the court or opposing counsel to act or demands a right. Additionally, they can ask a question. It is the equivalent of making an inquiry with the intentions of bringing about some form of action.

Request for a Physical or Mental Examination

When a party in a lawsuit requests that the other parties undergo a physical or mental examination, it’s because the person submitting the request thinks that the condition being examined pertains to the case.

Request for Admission

A request for admission is a formal request from one party to another asking for admissions of certain facts or issues. This request is typically made in writing and must be served on the other party. Once served, the other party has a limited time period in which to respond. If they fail to respond, they are considered to have admitted the facts or issues contained in the request.

The purpose of a request for admission is to simplify the issues in a case by narrowing down what needs to be proven at trial. This can save both time and money by avoiding having to litigate unnecessary issues. Additionally, it can also be used as a tool to encourage settlement by showing the other side that certain facts are not in dispute and that their case may not be as strong as they thought.

Request for documents

A request for documents is a request made by one party in a lawsuit to another to provide specific documents or other physical evidence.

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.” In law, it refers to a doctrine that allows the use of circumstantial evidence to prove that a defendant was negligent in an accident injuring the plaintiff if the accident was of a type that does not usually occur in the absence of negligence.



A settlement is an agreement between two parties to resolve a dispute. In the context of personal injury, it is an agreement between the injured party and the responsible party to settle the claim for damages. The settlement will typically include a payment from the responsible party to the injured party.

The settlement process can be initiated by either party, but it is usually started by the injured party making a demand for payment from the responsible party. If the responsible party does not agree to pay the amount demanded, then negotiation will ensue in an attempt to reach an agreement on a lower amount. If negotiation fails, then mediation or arbitration may be used to reach a resolution.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that provides financial help to individuals with disabilities and their families. In order to be eligible for the SSDI program, you must have enough time in the workforce, with recent employment history and payroll taxes paid.

Slip and Fall

A slip and fall accident is when someone slips, trips, or falls and hurts themselves on someone else’s property. This can happen anywhere, but it is most common in places owned or maintained by someone else such as stores, restaurants, office buildings, and parking lots.

Special Damages

As with most legal terms, the meaning of “special damages” can vary depending on the jurisdiction in which the term is used. In general, however, special damages refer to a type of damages that are awarded to a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit that are beyond the typical compensatory damages that are meant to cover things like medical bills and lost wages.

Special damages can be awarded for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and punitive damages. In some cases, special damages may also be awarded for property damage. The amount of special damages that a plaintiff may be entitled to receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of their case.

Specific Loss

Under workers’ compensation law, a specific loss means the permanent loss of a specific body part (or the ability to use that body part) because of an injury or amputation resulting from work duties.

Stacking of Coverages

Stacking of coverages is a common way for dealing with the limits on your auto policy. If you have auto liability or uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage, stacking your limits can be essential for covering extremely high costs when there are multiple people involved.

Standard of Care

The Standard of Care is the level of care that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would use. It is important to note that the Standard of Care changes depending on the situation. For example, if you are a doctor, the Standard of Care for diagnosing a patient will be different than the Standard of Care for prescribing medication.

Statute of Limitations

This is the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit after you have been injured. Florida has a 4-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases, with the exception of Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death is 2 years. If you’re bringing a lawsuit against the city, county, or state government, you only have 3 years to file a claim.

Strict Liability

Strict liability is a legal theory that holds a person or company responsible for their actions, even if they took all possible precautions to avoid harm. This type of liability is often used in cases involving defective products or dangerous activities.


A subpoena is a legal document that requires a person to appear in court or to provide testimony or documents. Subpoenas are typically issued by the court, but they can also be issued by an attorney on behalf of a party to a lawsuit.


“Subrogation,” or “subro” for short, is a term used to describe the process by which your insurance company takes possession of funds from the at-fault party. This happens after they’ve paid a covered claim, and the funds could help cover your deductible. It’s important to remember that you need to have adequate coverage on your policy and use it (including paying your deductible) before your insurance company can do anything.


Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

Temporary partial disability is a designation of disability for the purposes of workers’ compensation. When someone applies for workers’ compensation, his or her injury is classified on the basis of whether it is temporary or permanent and partial or total. Their benefits are then calculated accordingly. Temporary partial disability refers to an injury that affects some of the individual’s working ability but doesn’t entirely disrupt their ability to work.

Third-Party Claims

A third-party claim is when someone other than the victim files a personal injury claim against the person or entity responsible for the victim’s injuries.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you would file a third-party claim against that driver. If you are injured at work, you would file a third-party claim against your employer.

Third-party claims can be filed by anyone who was injured as a result of another person’s or entity’s negligence, including family members and friends of the victim. In some cases, a third-party claim can even be filed by the victim themselves.


A tort is a civil wrong that occurs when one person or entity unlawfully causes harm to another person or entity. Torts can be either intentional or unintentional.

Total Disability

When a person is so severely injured that they are unable to work and earn a living, they are said to be totally disabled. This is different from being partially disabled, which means the person can still work but at a reduced capacity. Being totally disabled means the person cannot work at all.

Total disability can be both physical and mental. Physical total disability means the person is completely unable to physically perform any type of work. Mental total disability means the person is unable to mentally perform any type of work.

Total disability can be temporary or permanent. If it is temporary, the person may eventually recover and be able to return to work. If it is permanent, the person will never be able to return to work.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of head injury that occurs when an external force causes the brain to dysfunction. TBI can result in a wide range of cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms, and can have a lasting effect on a person’s quality of life.

The most common cause of TBI is fall, followed by motor vehicle accidents and assaults. Other causes include sports-related injuries, military combat, and blast injuries.

Symptoms of TBI can vary depending on the severity of the injury. mild TBI may only result in temporary symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and confusion. More severe TBI can cause long-term problems such as impaired cognition, memory loss, personality changes, and difficulty with daily living activities.

Trier of Facts

A person or group who determines what facts are available in a legal proceeding and how they are relevant to deciding the outcome. To determine a fact is to decide, from the evidence, whether something existed or some event occurred.

Trip and Fall

Trip and fall and slip and fall are terms often used interchangeably to describe a fall that occurs due to a hazardous condition on someone else’s property. A trip and fall accident occurs when a person trips over an object or condition on another person’s property, such as a cracked sidewalk or loose carpeting.


Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) is insurance that you purchase to protect yourself and your passengers in the event that you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. UM coverage can pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, or a hit-and-run driver, uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) will pay for your damages, up to your policy limit. This includes your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.Most states require that drivers carry at least some minimum amount of UIM coverage.



The final opinion or decision made by a judge or jury after judging the facts that are given.

Vicarious Liability

In the context of personal injury law, vicarious liability refers to a legal doctrine that holds one party liable for the actions of another. This principle is often applied in cases where an employer is held responsible for the negligent or intentional acts of an employee. In some cases, vicarious liability may also extend to situations where one person has entrusted another with a dangerous task or object, and that person causes harm to another as a result.

Voir Dire

Jury selection, sometimes called “voir dire,” is typically a process where attorneys question potential jurors about their qualifications for a specific trial.


Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. Benefits can include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits. Workers’ compensation is typically mandatory in most jurisdictions, meaning employers must provide coverage for their employees.

Wrongful Death

When a person dies due to the negligence or intentional actions of another person or entity, it is considered a wrongful death. The surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. This type of lawsuit can result in compensation for the survivors, which can help with expenses related to the death, such as funeral costs and lost income.




If you have any questions or concerns about your legal rights and whether you have a case, speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyers at Shiner Law Group today.

Definitions, descriptions, and explanations referenced and consulted from the following sources:

All Law, US Legal, The Florida Bar, The Free Dictionary, Black’s Law Dictionary,,,, U.S., and Merriam-Webster

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