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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Personal Injury Terms You Should Know

by Jared Staver in Personal Injury

If you or a loved one sustain a severe injury in an accident due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may have a lot of questions. You have been thrust into a personal injury claim, and many of the terms you hear may sound foreign. When dealing with insurance companies and lawyers, it is essential to understand important personal injury terms that will be used during your case.

If you have been injured due to someone else, you should contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Our legal team will assist in developing a strategy to manage your claim. Our goal is always to help you recover the compensation that you deserve.

Contact us at to schedule a consultation free of charge today.

Common Personal Injury Terms

  • Abstract of Title – This refers to a chronological history of all records, documents, and claims that affect a title to real property. It is often used to prove ownership of a piece of land and to determine if there are any encumbrances on the property.
  • Adjudicate – When a legal matter is disputed in court, a judge may make a formal judgment or decision about the legal issues presented. This is called “adjudication.”
  • Ad Litem – This is a Latin term that means “for the suit.” A guardian ad litem is typically appointed to appear in court on behalf of a child or someone who cannot represent themselves such as an adult who is incompetent.
  • Assumption of Risk – When a person is warned or knows about a risk and continues voluntarily, they have assumed the risk. In many personal injury cases, a person who assumes a risk may not recover compensation.
  • Civil Rights – The U.S. Constitution grants certain civil rights, or legal entitlements, to freedom and equality. Every person whose rights have been violated may file a lawsuit against the person, company, organization, or government agency who violated those rights.
  • Claim – A personal injury claim is a civil action made against a person who causes physical or mental harm on behalf of an injured victim. This often involves negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct.
  • Class-Action Lawsuit – When multiple people join together and file one lawsuit against a person or company who caused mental, physical, or financial harm to the group, the result is a class action lawsuit. Often, one or a group of attorneys represent the group of plaintiffs, who may sue for compensation.
  • Comparative Negligence – When the plaintiff’s negligent actions, or contribution to an accident, are compared with the defendant’s negligent acts or inaction, then the claim utilizes comparative negligence to determine who is at fault. Some states use variations of comparative negligence to decide who should pay for an accident.
  • Compensation – This is a term used for the financial recovery obtained to cover losses, such as medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and more in a personal injury claim.
  • Damages – This is the amount of money to be recovered in a civil court case for injuries caused by another party.
  • Defendant – This refers to the party that a lawsuit is filed against by the plaintiff. This may be an individual, insurance company, organization, or group of people and companies. There may be multiple defendants named in a lawsuit.
  • Duty – Some people and companies have a responsibility to act in a certain way. This expectation is a “duty.” For example, drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road. Thus, they have a duty to other drivers to follow the law.
  • Expert Witness – These people have special knowledge and may testify at a trial or contribute to witness statements discussing what happened in an accident or compensation.
  • Fraud – A false statement made intentionally or deceptively may be considered fraud when it is made in an attempt to gain financial benefit for the person who makes the fraudulent statement, writing, or claim.
  • Gross Negligence – When someone acts intentionally or recklessly and disregards another person’s well-being or property, they may fail to uphold their legal duty and are considered grossly negligent.
  • Lawsuit (or suit) – This is a court action brought by a plaintiff against a defendant or defendants for compensation from or punishment of the defendant.
  • Liability – A liable person may be held legally obligated under the law, and therefore, may be required to pay for any damages that occur due to their negligence.
  • Litigation – The act of filing a lawsuit and going through the legal process.
  • Loss of Consortium – This includes damages that may be awarded for the loss of companionship experienced by a spouse or partner.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity – This includes damages that may be awarded for the difference between what you could have earned prior to injury compared to what you can earn now.
  • Medical Malpractice – This occurs when a health care provider or treating medical personnel fail to uphold their standard of care, which results in negligent medical care and causes injury to a patient.
  • Mitigating Circumstances – A defendant may offer reasons, or mitigating circumstances, that justify their failure to uphold a duty or their negligence. This may reduce their fault after an incident and reduce damages for which they are liable.
  • Negligence – This is when a person fails to uphold a standard of care or act in a way that a reasonable person would in the circumstances.
  • Personal Injury – This is a broad area of law that covers an array of cases that may be caused by negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior and result in physical, mental, and financial loss to a plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff – Also called the “complainant,” this is the person who initiates and brings a lawsuit against a defendant.
  • Premises Liability – This describes the legal liability that a property owner or maintainer has according to the law. Property owners and managers must uphold a particular duty and maintain their property within a certain standard of care. When they violate that duty, they may be liable for injuries that occur on the premises.
  • Proximate Cause – This is the primary reason, or cause, of damage that occurs. Without this reason or cause, the damages would not have happened.
  • Settlement – This is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a suit or claim.
  • Standard of Care – This is the degree of care that a person should have taken when acting. This is often compared to what a reasonable person would have done in a similar circumstance.
  • Statute of Limitations – This is the amount of time allowed by law for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit. In personal injury claims, this is often an amount of time after the accident occurs or the injury is discovered. If a lawsuit is filed after this expires, then it may be dismissed.
  • Verdict – When a lawsuit is taken to court, a judge or jury may issue a decision, or verdict, regarding the claims.
  • Wrongful Death – When a person dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional conduct of another that does not align with a reasonable standard of care, a person or company may be held liable.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

If you still have questions about your claim, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. All of these terms can be confusing, and it’s important to understand which ones align with your claim. Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C today at to find out how we can help you during a free consultation.