Legal Terms in a Personal Injury Case

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 an accident.
  • 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.


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