A Simple Guide to Understanding Legal Terms and Jargon

Today’s Term – “Personal Injury”

Every field has its share of professional vocabulary, acronyms (those lost in translation terms abbreviated to initials only), and technical terms that when used in a discussion, can leave the rest of us without a clue. Perhaps the two worst “offenders” are the medical and the legal realms, which also happen to be those folks whom we generally are most dependent upon for the really important matters in life. Understanding what’s being said and knowing how to use terms in response can make a crucial difference in the quality of the services received.

While you’ll have to depend on Google for the medical interpretations, what I want to help you have is a clearer understanding of are some of the most commonly used but often unclear or misunderstood terms in our area of practice: personal injury law. And that’s just where we’ll start:

What does the term personal injury law mean?

Simplest definition: law that deals with injury to a person as a result of someone else’s fault.

What it covers: any physical injury that happens to a person as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. The legal term for such behavior: fault. If you’ve been injured and it wasn’t your fault, you just might be able to take legal action against whomever caused the accident that injured you.

Of course, to have a claim you need to be able to identify who was at fault. The person–or in legal language “the party”–claiming injury is the plaintiff. The person or party the claim is brought against is referred to as the defendant, which is easy to remember if you think of them as needing to defend themselves against the claim or lawsuit.

The Ruth Law Team represents only the injured and is therefore considered a plaintiff’s firm.

What’s excluded:

  • Harm (damage) to an object (property)
  • Injury to a pet (sorry, pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. Yeah, I don’t feel that way about my pup, but the court does.)
  • Damage to a business or company (despite what some politicians say, the legal system doesn’t consider corporations people; therefore, they can’t be injured)
  • Willful/intentional infliction of injury because insurance only covers accidents (if a crime has been committed, that’s a whole new ball game involving criminal law, although a personal injury lawsuit may be an option down the road for compensatory as well as punitive damages–think OJ and the aftermath)

Types of personal injury cases:

  • Vehicular Accidents – Automobile, motorcycle, boats, planes, trains, bicycles, buses, golf carts…think any moving vehicle. Because cars are the most widely used form of transportation in the US, auto accidents generally make up the largest portion of all personal injury claims.
  • Products Liability – cases against a manufacturer due to a defect in the product causing injury or death. These may involve medical devices, drugs, toys, cars, etc.
  • Slip & Fall – this term is used to describe those cases where an unsafe or dangerous condition on any premise (residential or commercial) was allowed to exist without warning or prevention and led to harm to an innocent victim.
  • Medical Malpractice – claims brought against medical professionals for injury or death that was the result of care which failed to meet the accepted standard of practice.
  • Wrongful Death – This is a broad classification describing the end result of the injury as opposed to one type of case. Most wrongful death cases fall under another specific heading. As the term implies, it applies to any case brought on behalf of a deceased person who’s death occurred as the result of someone else’s negligence, carelessness, and/or incompetence. For example, cases where someone is killed by a drunk driver are often also called wrongful death cases.
  • Nursing Home Abuse – This term evolved because of the large number of legal complaints based on negligent care in skilled nursing facilities. It is merely a description of the actions that are negligent or violate the resident’s rights. Most other terms you will hear merely describe the reason for the claim and are not strictly speaking a legal definition and have resulted in injury or wrongful death.

Our goal is to obtain the maximum financial recovery possible for our clients.  Claims for damages or lawsuits are generally made/filed against:

  • insurance companies in accident cases,
  • manufacturers in defective product and dangerous drug cases
  • physicians and hospitals in medical malpractice cases.

A few other basic but important points to understand about personal injury law:

  1.  How do you know if you have a case and if should you call an attorney?
    • You should call an attorney because that’s how you can find out if you have a case. You can call our office any time ((888) 783-8378), and you’ll talk with one of our attorneys who will be happy to evaluate your circumstances and answer your questions. It’s easy. It’s readily accessible. It’s free. And it will take the guess work out and give you professional guidance that makes a difference.
  2. Couldn’t I call any attorney for advice? I know a few and have even used one for a real estate transaction.
    • Of course, you can call anyone you want. Our recommendation is that you talk with an attorney who is well versed in personal injury law. You wouldn’t call your dermatologist for chest pain would you? We have over 30 years of experience exclusively in personal injury law. It’s what we do, and we do it well. And if you’re checking law firm credentials, be sure to find out about their trial experience. It makes all the difference both in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. Our confidence comes from years of work in County, State (including the Supreme Court), and Federal Appeals courts. Talk is cheap. Experience and a record of successes is hard won.
  3. Does every injury result in a case?
    • There are lots of factors to be considered, evidence of the defendant’s fault to be gathered, and proof of injury to be documented and presented. But that’s what our Team of experienced legal professionals does for each of our clients. Also, there are certain time limitations that come into play. That’s why it’s always better to call us sooner rather than later.
  4. Can I afford to hire your firm?
    • Yes, and frankly you risk losing financial compensation if you don‘t call us. We work only on a contingency basis which means we don’t get paid a thing unless we make a monetary recovery for you. We don’t get paid unless you get paid. All of this is carefully explained before you sign anything. We want you to ask questions and to feel completely comfortable having our Law Team handle your claim. You can read what many of our clients have to say about our services by clicking here.