Personal injury terms you should know

Personal injury is a term used in civil law when filing a lawsuit to recover damages resulting from an accident. These injuries can be costly and life-changing. Understanding these personal injury terms helps clarify the legal process when you work with a Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss compensation for your injuries.

personal injury terms

What is negligence?

A personal injury attorney in Chicago is responsible for proving negligence in a personal injury case. Negligence can be defined as not practicing the required care in a situation that the average member of society would. In personal injury claims, many parties could be found negligent, including:

  • Drivers
  • Pet owners
  • Property owners
  • Store managers
  • Physicians
  • Manufacturers
  • Employers

Injuries are not always the result of negligence, but if you suffer injuries, our team can determine whether they resulted from someone else’s careless actions. We also determine if you have a solid personal injury claim and gather evidence to demonstrate the four elements of negligence.

Who holds the burden of proof?

To file a personal injury case, the injured party has to demonstrate essential legal elements for a case to be successful in court. These elements also must be proven. These personal injury legal terms include:

  • Duty of care: An individual’s legal responsibility to act in a specific way to avoid harming someone else.
  • Breach of duty: The person’s actions violate the accepted form of action and fail to provide the appropriate level of care.
  • Causation: Actions that are outside of acceptable practices which lead to harm or injury.
  • Damages: The expenses that result from the actions taken by another.

Evidence is critical in proving a personal injury. Waiting to seek legal representation can result in losing vital evidence proving negligence. Failing to prove these elements can also lead to an insurance denial.

How do insurance companies view negligence?

Illinois insurance law assigns a portion of negligence to each person involved in an accident and then modifies the amount offered to an injury victim to deduct for their percentage of fault. For example, suppose a shopper slipped and fell on a spill in a grocery aisle. Video evidence shows the shopper was texting while walking, so they did not see the danger.

The store was assigned 70% of the fault, and the shopper was found 30% at fault. As a result, the shopper’s compensation amount was reduced to 70% of their original damages demand.

What are the types of damages insurance may reimburse?

The expenses that result from an accident have multiple personal injury law terms but are often referred to as compensatory damages. This monetary payment compensates the injured party and aims to restore them to their previous state before the accident. Compensation for damages depends on retaining the evidence in an accident, and compensatory damages are divided into two categories.

Economic damages are the actual costs an injured person suffers that have a specific dollar value. These damages may include medical expenses, lost income, transportation costs to medical appointments, and property damage. Noneconomic damages have no set dollar amount and must be assigned an amount by an attorney. These compensate the victim for injuries such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages often occur in cases where negligence is particularly heinous as a form of punishment to the negligent individual rather than compensation for damages. It sets an example that an action falls outside a standard of behavior that is unacceptable to the courts.

Are settlements and verdicts the same?

These two personal injury terms are often confused but are different avenues to determine personal injury damages. A personal injury settlement or compensation amount can be negotiated with an insurance company for the damages caused by an accident, alleviating the need to go to court. Settlements can also occur before a trial verdict when the defendant decides to agree to a certain amount.

A verdict is a decision made and awarded by the courts. Most personal injury cases do not reach this phase of legal action. Your Chicago personal injury lawyer will often work to negotiate a settlement before a case goes to trial.

How are the time limits set in a personal injury case?

The statute of limitations is the time frame designated by law stating how long an individual has to pursue legal action. This law is significant because once the time runs out, a court will likely dismiss a case regardless of the damages you have suffered.

What is a fee structure when paying for an attorney?

Fee structures are how Chicago personal injury attorneys charge their clients. Some attorneys charge by the hour, but our firm represents clients on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay a fee when we recover compensation. Contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates online or call (800) 985-1819 if you have questions concerning personal injuries.