There are many legal terms you will hear if you are involved in a personal
injury case. Here are a few terms and the meaning of each.
Affidavit: An affidavit is a sworn statement made in writing and under oath. A person
who lies in an affidavit can face perjury or contempt charges, just the
same as if they lie while testifying in court.
Causation: Causation, in personal injury cases, usually means the question of whether
a particular accident resulted in the injury the victim is suffering from.
Sometimes, insurance companies argue the true cause of an injury was some
other accident or condition.
Civil case: Civil cases are non-criminal legal proceedings, usually filed by private
individuals or companies, to resolve legal disputes. An example of civil
cases are lawsuits brought by accident victims, to recover for the damages
they suffered in an accident.
Damages: Damages are the compensation a court awards to a person who suffered a
wrong, often through negligence. Damages can include medical bills, lost
wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Defendant: In civil lawsuits, the “defendant” is the person or insurance
company being sued. The person who filed the lawsuit is seeking an order
from the court that the defendant pay them damages, or some other kind
of relief, such as an injunction.
Deposition: In a civil case, witnesses can be required to give a deposition, which
is testimony under oath in the presence of a court reporter and the lawyers
in the case. Depositions usually take place in a lawyer’s office.
Discovery: In civil cases, “discovery” means the various methods each
side to the lawsuit has to obtain information about its own case, and
the other side’s evidence. Discovery methods can include depositions
of parties and other witnesses, as well as written means of discovery
such as subpoenas. Parties to a lawsuit can demand that the other parties
answer “interrogatories,” which are written questions regarding
the case, and also produce any documents relevant to the lawsuit.
Liability: Liability, in injury cases, usually means legal responsibility for the
incident sued over.
Lien: A lien is a legally recognized claim or privilege against property. Many
people are familiar with liens that can be placed on real estate by creditors
when a property owner does not pay a bill. In addition, medical providers
can sometimes place a lien, also referred to as a “privilege,”
on a plaintiff’s personal injury case, in order to ensure that the
medical provider’s bill will be paid when the case is settled or
a judgment is paid.
Pain and suffering: In personal injury cases, “pain and suffering” refers to a
type of injury that the person enduring the pain and suffering can seek
damages for. Courts have recognized that injured people can be entitled
to “pain and suffering” damages for the past and even the
future, if they can show they are likely to continue to suffer from their
injury in the future. In addition, courts will award damages for “loss
of enjoyment of life” in past and future, if the plaintiff shows
he has and will continue to suffer such damages.
Personal injury: An injury suffered by a person, usually a bodily injury. Sometimes “personal
injury” includes mental as well as physical harm suffered through
Plaintiff: The person who files a lawsuit and seeks damages, or other legal relief,
from the defendant.
Statute of limitations: A law that limits the time a person can file a lawsuit in court. In Louisiana,
statutes of limitation are usually referred to as “prescription,”
and in most injury cases, the victim has only one year from the accident
to file a lawsuit.
If you have been injured in an accident, the Womac Law Firm can help answer
any questions you may have regarding your accident. Call us at (504) 470-3935
for a free consultation and talk with one of our experienced New Orleans
personal injury lawyers.