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Legal Jargon Decoded: Common Personal Injury Terms Explained

Understanding the term used in personal injury law can be like trying to understand a foreign language. Here, we’ll demystify essential legal terms, offering clear explanations and real-world examples to empower you with a better understanding of the language used in personal injury cases:

Understanding these fundamental terms can significantly enhance your ability to navigate the intricacies of personal injury law. As you embark on your legal journey, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to communicate with your attorney and make informed decisions about your case.


  •    Definition: Negligence refers to the failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances.
  •    Example: In a car accident, if a driver runs a red light and causes a collision, they may be deemed negligent for not obeying traffic laws


  •    Definition: Damages encompass the losses suffered by an individual due to an injury, both economic (such as medical expenses or lost wages) and non-economic (such as pain and suffering).
  •    Example: If a person sustains injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, the damages may include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and compensation for emotional distress.


  •    Definition: Liability refers to legal responsibility. In personal injury cases, determining liability involves establishing who is at fault for the injuries or damages suffered.
  •    Example: In a product liability case, if a defective product causes harm, the manufacturer may be held liable for the injuries sustained by the consumer.

Contingency Fee:

  •    Definition: A contingency fee is a fee arrangement where the attorney’s payment is contingent upon the successful outcome of the case. If the case is won, the attorney receives a percentage of the settlement or award.
  •    Example: If a personal injury lawyer operates on a contingency fee basis and secures a $100,000 settlement for their client, the lawyer may receive a previously agreed-upon percentage, typically around 30%, as their fee.

Statute of Limitations:

  •    Definition: The statute of limitations sets a time limit within which a legal action must be filed. In personal injury cases, it dictates how long an individual has to initiate a lawsuit after the injury occurs.
  •    Example: If someone is injured in a car accident, and the statute of limitations in their state is two years, they must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident to preserve their legal rights.

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