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Personal Injury

Basic Legal Terms and Definitions

When reading about personal injury law, there may be some terms or words that are unfamiliar to you. Learning about the law can be confusing, and we are here to help. Below are a few definitions that may aid you when reading throughout this website.

Affirmative Defense

A defendant’s assertion raising new facts and arguments that, if true, will defeat the plaintiff’s claim, even if all of the plaintiff’s allegations are true

Adjuster

The insurance company representative assigned to handle a claim.

Answer

The first pleading or document filed with the Court by the defendant after being served with the summons and complaint. The defendant must admit or deny each allegation contained in the complaint and must set forth all affirmative defenses.

Comparative Fault

This is the legal principle that allows for the reduction of a plaintiff’s recovery proportionally to his or her fault with respect to the events that led to the Plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Damages

Monetary compensation for loss or injury to a person or property. This includes: Past and future medical expenses, past and future lost income, past and future pain and suffering, past and future loss of function, permanent disfigurement or scarring, funeral expenses, loss of consortium and property damage and many others in more complex cases.

Demand

Formal request to settle a claim for a specified dollar amount.

Defendant

Party being sued or otherwise alleged to be legally responsible for some amount of damage.

Depositions

A deposition is testimony taken under oath before the trial and preserved in writing. If admitted into evidence at the trial the jury is permitted to consider that testimony as if it had been given in court. This helps to lock witness’s into their testimony so that you can rely on them saying the same thing at trial if they testify. And if they don’t use can use it to impeach their testimony that changed.

Fault

Legal responsibility for an act or omission. Can be one or more parties including the Defendant(s) or Plaintiff(s). Can be intentional, through negligent acts or omissions, or implied by law such as in the case of dog bites.

Interrogatory

An interrogatory is a written question asked by one party of another, which must be answered under oath in writing. If admitted as evidence in the trial, the jury is permitted to consider interrogatories and the answers to them as if the questions had been asked and answered in court.

Liability

Being legally obligated or responsible.

Limits

This is the amount of moneys that is available to be paid out for any given accident or collision. There are often limits for each individual injured party as well as a total cap for all injured parties in one accident. The given limits in a case can have a significant impact on how claims are made, cases are litigated, and when payments are made in a given situation.

Litigation Related Costs

Those costs which are made necessary by the insurance claim and civil litigation process. They include among other things:

  • costs of obtaining medical records and bills
  • expert witness fees, consultation fees
  • discovery related expenses such as depositions and document production
  • filing fees
  • process service fees

Party

An individual, company or other legal entity that is either a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit.

Petition

A formal written request presented to a court. This is a lawsuits first pleading or document filed with the Court.

Personal Injury

The term used to describe injury to the human body. This can be in the form of an actual physical injury such as a concussion, spinal cord injury, or broken bones. It can also be an injury to a personal right such as right to privacy, mental suffering or emotional distress. It is the broad category of injury that encompasses every type of injury to a human being.

Plaintiff

Party bringing the action or filing the lawsuit or seeking compensation for alleged damages.

Release

Written document relieving the opposing party from responsibility for an event. It serves to give up a right or claim against the other person for damages resulting from the injury causing event.

Request for Admissions

A request for admissions is a written request to the opposing party requesting that they admit the truth of certain matters of fact. At trial, the jury is required to regard as being conclusively proved all such matters of fact which were expressly admitted pursuant to a request for admission.

Statute of Limitations

Also called statute of repose. This is the law setting out a time limit for suing or prosecuting a claim based upon the date when the claim accrues. If you bring your claim after the statute of limitations has expired then your claim can be dismissed for waiting too long.

Subrogation

The right of one insurance company to be reimbursed by the insurance company of the party determined to be at fault for moneys paid out initially on their policy.

We are happy to answer more complex questions

If you have questions or concerns about personal injury terms or concepts we are only a phone call away. No matter how complex your questions, we are here to help. We offer a free consultation and would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your case.

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JeffSpokane, WA

From the moment Robert Hahn law office took my case, he and his staff guided my family through the mazes and hoops the insurance industry has created. Their personal attention and professional attitude has helped us recover through this difficult time. I recommend Robert Hahn as a personal injury attorney without hesitation.