Common Personal Injury Terms and What They Mean

If you’ve been injured, you may find yourself hiring a lawyer, like a catastrophic injury lawyer in Las Vegas, NV from Eglet Adams, and filing a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury law can be confusing, in order for you to gain a basic understanding of how personal injury law works, you will need to learn the meanings of some common terms. 

Below are eight terms that are used in personal injury law that you are likely to see during the process of your lawsuit. 

Plaintiff and Defendant

The person who brings about a personal injury lawsuit is called a plaintiff while the person being sued is referred to as the defendant. The plaintiff is usually the injured party who is seeking damages from the defendant for causing their injury or behaving in a negligent manner that allowed the plaintiff to sustain an injury. 


A complaint is the first legal document filed by the injured party in a lawsuit. The complaint lays out the plaintiff’s version of facts, the legal theory under which the case is brought and the plaintiff’s request for damages. 


Damages are the sum of money a plaintiff is awarded for their injuries. The defendant in a case is liable for damages. There are two types of damages, compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are awarded to the plaintiff to compensate for actual costs of an injury or loss. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct and to deter the defendant and others from acting in a similar manner in the future. 

Excess Judgment 

When the amount of damages exceeds a defendants policy limits, the insurer is required to pay above the policy limit. Excess judgments are usually awarded when an insurance company behaves in a way that is found to be in violation of good business practices. 

Product Liability 

Is an area of law in which the distributors, manufacturers, suppliers and retailers who make products for the public are liable for the injuries their products cause. Items covered by this area of law include drugs, automobiles, equipment, food and practically every consumer product. 


A tort is a civil wrong, that is not a criminal matter, that leads legal liability. Tort lawsuits are the biggest category of civil litigation, the three main types of tort lawsuits are intentional torts, negligence and strict liability. 


A verdict is a formal decision made by a judge or jury in court proceedings. In personal injury trials, a jury will be tasked with hearing both sides of a case and evaluating evidence in order to determine if a defendant is guilty or innocent. 


Settlements are decided out of court. When two parties decide to settle a case, one party agrees to pay compensation to the other. By paying the specified amount, the party who receives the money agrees to take no further legal action on the matter. Settlements occur frequently in personal injury law due to defendants wanting to avoid the high costs of litigation.