Understanding Personal Injury Lingo – Aronberg & Aronberg

Every field has its own, unique “lingo” that sometimes sounds foreign to outsiders.  For example, some basketball phrases that are not necessarily universally known are “field goal,” “in the paint,” and “beyond the arc.”  In banking, some foreign-sounding phrases include “beneficiary,” “delinquency,” and “fiduciary.”  Similarly, personal injury law has got its own group of phrases that are not necessarily self-explanatory.  In this blog, we’d like to make you aware of some of the most common phrases in personal injury law and explain them.  By gaining an understanding of the meaning behind personal injury law language, you can arm yourself with useful knowledge that you can use to protect yourself should you be involved in a personal injury incident.

Let’s start with the basics: have you heard of the word “tort?”  No, “tort” is not a nickname for a tortoise.  In fact, in simple terms, a tort is a civil wrongdoing.  Someone has committed a tort when their negligent actions have caused suffering for someone else.  While a tort is not always an illegal action, it does always cause harm.  A tort claim can be brought against a perpetrator by anyone who has suffered a loss as a result of the perpetrator’s actions.  Torts can be intentional or unintentional.  Examples of intentional torts are assault, purposeful invasion of privacy, etc.  Examples of unintentional torts are distracted driving that causes an accident, operating a store with a slippery floor that causes someone to slip and hurt themselves, etc. 

If someone has committed a tort, chances are they are “liable” for the damages suffered by the recipient of the injuries or other losses.  For example, a reckless driver who injures a pedestrian would be liable for the injuries and other damages that the pedestrian suffered as a result of the driver’s recklessness.  Or, to take a look at another example, a store owner would be liable for damages if someone slipped and fell on a slippery floor in the store and was injured.  Liability is a key issue in personal injury law—the liable party is the party that the plaintiff will demand compensation from. 

Let’s move on to “negligence.”  Negligence is the failure to act in a way that would be circumstantially prudent.  For example, if someone is driving down the highway and didn’t pay attention to the braking car in front of them, and slammed into the rear of the vehicle, they would have acted in a negligent manner.  In other words, because it would have been prudent for them to keep their eyes on the road and be aware of any braking cars in front of them, because they did not act in such a way, they were negligent in their actions; they neglected their responsibilities.  So, for someone to have acted negligently, they had to have had a duty of care that they breached.  Again, a person does not have to necessarily break the law to have committed a negligent act.

Under the scope of negligence, there is such a thing as comparative negligence.  In many personal injury cases, the responsibility, or fault, is not “black and white.”  In many instances, a jury might assess blame to more than one involved party.  For example, in an two-vehicle auto accident, it might be determined that both drivers were liable for the damages.  Therefore, the liability, and subsequent financial responsibility, would be divided up among the involved parties. 

If you have any other questions about anything else related to personal injury, please contact us at 561-266-9191 or email us at daronberg@build.simple.biz.

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