When you or a loved one are in the process of pursuing compensation for a personal injury, you will likely see or hear various terms that may be unfamiliar to you. This glossary should clear most of those up, though you should consult a knowledgeable personal injury attorney if you have any more specific questions.
Comparative negligence is a legal system used when it is argued that the victim is partially responsible for their injuries. Comparative negligence varies by state, and here in Colorado, we have a “modified comparative negligence” system – meaning that victims who are 50% or more responsible for their injuries cannot recover any compensation. Victims who are 49% or less responsible for their injuries can recover compensation equal to the percentage that others are responsible. For example, if a case is worth $100,000, but the victim was adjudicated to be 30% responsible for his injuries, the victim can still recover $70,000.
Damages are a remedy, usually monetary, that a victim is seeking to receive as compensation for a loss or injury. There are two common types of damages awarded:
- Economic: Medical bills, lost wages, and property damage are classified as economic damages.
- Non-economic: Pain, suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, and similar ideas are considered non-economic damages.
Damages can either be compensatory (intended to help victims put their lives back together) or punitive (designed to punish the guilty party and deter others).
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the legal term that represents someone’s responsibility to take reasonable action to ensure the safety of others. Drivers, property owners, managers, and many others have a duty of care to those around them. A violation of a person’s duty of care that results in a personal injury carries a legal liability for the injury.
Liability is the legal responsibility for your actions, and failure to perform those actions leaves you open to a lawsuit for any resulting damages. Determining who is liable is a crucial part of any personal injury case.
Any lawsuit or other court action to settle a legal dispute or question.
Loss of Consortium
The loss of support and companionship that a spouse or family member experiences when a loved one dies. Loss of consortium is a common form of damages awarded to the family of those who died due to the negligence or carelessness of another.
Conduct or behavior that falls below the legal duty of care that one has toward others. This broad term can include such actions as reckless driving (a violation of the duty of care each driver has toward other drivers on the road), omitting safety practices in the workplace (violation of the duty of care an owner or manager has toward employees and customers), and countless others.
The legal responsibility that property owners have to provide compensation for those who are injured on their property due to a breach of the duty of care the owners have toward those who enter their property.
Statute of Limitations
The legal time limit set in which a victim is allowed to bring a suit or complaint, or for an individual to file suit to recover damages.
An agreement between two or more parties in any lawsuit or legal action. Settlements are often in the form of a sum of money agreed upon between a victim and the legally liable party (such as an insurance company) to complete a claim without having to go to trial.
The final decision of a judge or jury on a case.