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I’m trying to better understand my options, but I can’t understand this legal jargon. Can you help?

If you are in the midst of personal injury lawsuit, either as a plaintiff or a defendant, it can be difficult enough simply understanding all of your rights without the added problem of deciphering through legal jargon as you determine the best course of action. Before you make your final decision take a moment to acquaint yourself with some vital terms to know as you move forward with the case.

It is important to first understand what defines a complaint as a personal injury case. A personal injury complaint can be filed if one party sustains an injury due to another party’s fault. Cases of injury due to negligence often make up a large portion of cases for personal injury complaints.


The complaint is easily defined as the formal grievance lodged against an individual or party filed with the appropriate court. Formal complaints are the starting point for all personal injury cases.


The individual who files the formal complaint is known as the plaintiff, more simply put a plaintiff is the injured party bringing the case to court.


The individual or party in which the case is brought upon is recognized as the defendant. Defendants would be considered the party allegedly responsible for the prevention or cause of the accident resulting in injury.


In the case of a personal injury complaint, damages can be easily summed up as the amount of money the plaintiff is attempting to recover from the defendant. Damages can be further broken down into two smaller categories, economic and non-economic. Economic would be those that are easily quantifiable such as medical expenses, lost wages due to missed work, and cost for repairs while non-economic would be considered those such as pain and suffering caused by the injury. Though the former is much easier to seek as it is easily proven that a plaintiff has sustained damages.


Often personal injury cases depend upon the plaintiff proving that the sustained injury resulted due to negligence on the part of the defendant.

Negligence would be considered any careless conduct that led directly to the injury such as a store failing to alert individuals of a slippery floor within a market or can be even the act of an individual driving recklessly. To determine negligence, first, the court must decide that the defendant had an obligation to preserving the safety of the plaintiff. If that obligation is proven then it must determine that the obligation was broken by the defendant due to their actions. If both the obligation and its breach are proven, it must be shown that both directly contributed to the sustained injury of the plaintiff.

Statute of Limitations

Every particular court case has a period of time in which it can be actively settled by the court system. This period of time begins from the date of the sustained injury. Though each case’s individual statute of limitations varies, some cases can be formally seen before a court for a period of ten years while others may have a limitation of only a couple years before considered beyond the period to file a complaint. If a case is found to be exceeding the statute of limitations, the plaintiff no longer has the right to pursue any damages against a defendant.

Each state has their own statute of limitations for each type of case so it is important that you familiarize yourself with the regulations in your own state.

Burden of Proof

The responsibility of proving that an injury was indeed sustained and resulted in damages is known as the burden of proof. That responsibility lies typically on the plaintiff within personal injury cases. So to determine that an injury was the fault of the defendant, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant was more culpable, or at fault, than the plaintiff for the sustained injuries.

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