As a personal injury lawyer with nearly five decades of experience, Mike Lyding speaks fluent legalese.  When dealing with insurance companies and navigating the civil court system, there can be a lot of legal jargon to decipher, and it can be overwhelming to understand all the technical terms.  If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are many reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer, and at the top of nearly every list is so that you don’t have to sweat the details!

With Mike Lyding, it’s simply our job to understand the ins and outs of every case, and that includes all of the legal terms.  That means if you hire us as your personal injury lawyer, you can be sure you have the very best in your corner.  However, as a resource for anyone in the non-legal field, we thought it would be helpful to put together this list of legal terminology as related to personal injury cases everyone should understand.

Legal Terms Everyone Involved in an Accident Should Understand
Don’t worry, there’s no bar exam to pass after this vocab lesson; we’re hoping that understanding some of these terms will help anyone who’s been injured in an accident feel a little less overwhelmed. Keep in mind that the injured party may use unwise terms, unwise in the sense that the adjustor will interpret them differently than intended. So always make sure you’re working with a skilled personal injury attorney like Mike Lyding.

  • Act of God: An “Act of God” or “force majeure” is an event caused by natural forces that could not have been prevented by due care or reasonable foresight by a human. An insurance company might use this defense if a natural disaster, such as a flood, lighting, or an earthquake, contributed to the accident, or if the policyholder had a sudden medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke which led to the accident. This is also called the “sudden medical emergency defense.”
  • Bodily Injury: This is the damage done to a person’s body and may result from an accident, negligence, or an intentional act.  Intentional bodily harm is a crime, and accidental or negligent bodily harm can result in a lawsuit.
  • Burden of Proof: The burden of proof refers to the determination of who has to prove a matter at court.  In the context of personal injury cases, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff.  This means, the person who brings the case to court has to prove to the judge or jury that the defendant’s negligence caused the injury.  Furthermore, it is required to prove the suffering, lost wages, medical treatment, etc are related to the injury caused by the defendant’s negligence.
  • Compensatory Damages:  Damages that are recovered for injury or economic loss. For example, if you’re injured in a car accident by someone else, the party at fault must cover the cost of things such as the ambulance, doctors’ bills, hospital stays, medicine, physical therapy, and lost wages.
  • Depose:  To depose, or to give a deposition, means to testify or give information under oath or sworn affidavit outside of court.  In a personal injury case, depositions are used to help both sides gain information about the accident, and the potentially liable party has legal right to information about your injuries as well as the right to see what documents may be used in the case.
  • Diligence:  In the legal world, diligence means a person, business, or entity has given reasonable care or attention to a matter to prevent an injury.  For example, looking both ways before proceeding after stopping at a stop sign or washing your hands before operating on a patient.  Due diligence denotes what a normal, responsible person would do under the same conditions.
  • Negligence: Negligence is the opposite of diligence; it means the failure to exercise the care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances.  Proving negligence is required in most claims from injuries and accidents before you can hold a party legally responsible for the harm you suffered.  Furthermore, “gross negligence” is serious carelessness.

This list serves as a small guide to some of the most important legal terms you should know if you’ve been caused harm by someone else.  For a full list of terms, check out this extensive legal glossary.  And if you have questions about an injury you’ve sustained from an accident or due to negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact Mike so we can discuss the specifics of your case.

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