The language of the law is foreign to many individuals. However, if you are in an accident in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, these unfamiliar words can become commonplace. Such legal terminology might be used in a police report or as you interact with an insurance company. You might see them on forms that you are asked to sign. It helps to have a running knowledge base of such words. While your attorney can answer any questions you may have, knowing what the words mean helps.
Important First Words
Accidents have a cause. It could be inclement weather or another driver’s fault. Some accidents are due to negligence, and you may be totally without fault or partly to blame.
Negligence results when someone fails to act prudently, something a reasonable person would do, thereby causing harm to another individual. Negligence is legal terminology used as the foundation of lawsuits. It is necessary for the injured party to show that the person accused of negligence had a duty to act in a particular way toward someone, or this duty is implied broadly such as that which a driver has towards other drivers. Further, the injured party must prove that the negligent actions directly resulted in injury or property damage, and there were financial consequences.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
This is legal terminology that deals with the responsibility each driver has when an accident happens. Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence rule. This legal terminology means that if a driver is 99 percent at fault, he or she may still recover damages. The amount that is recovered is decreased by the individual’s percentage of negligence. For instance, if a driver is 90 percent at fault for causing an accident and incurred $1,000 in damages, the amount that person can recover is $100.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit is one that is filed against another party for injuries suffered due to the person’s negligence. This can be a malpractice lawsuit, premises liability due to lack of safety precautions or one resulting from a motor vehicle accident. The common thread is that an individual is injured due to the negligence of another party.
A Plaintiff Files a Lawsuit Against a Defendant
If a claim is filed in court, one person is called the plaintiff and the other the defendant. The plaintiff is the person filing the lawsuit while the person against whom the lawsuit is filed is the defendant. The plaintiff is the one seeking damages. Compensatory damages are those that cover the plaintiff’s financial loss.
Signing a Release
When a lawsuit is resolved, it might result in a jury award or a settlement. A settlement refers to the amount paid to the plaintiff. Before the plaintiff is paid, he or she will usually be asked to sign a release form. This form removes any future liability to the insurance company or an individual. Signing the form without legal advice may have consequences for the signer.
Waiting Too Long May Invalidate a Claim
There are rules concerning the period of time within which a plaintiff may file. The rules are state-specific and are called statutes of limitations. If the lawsuit is not filed within this specified period, it is unlikely the court will hear it. The time limit differs for different types of lawsuits.
If you are involved in an accident, knowing the legal terminology helps. Your Kaiser Romanello accident attorney can answer any questions you have and explain the legal terminology to you. Involvement in an accident due to the negligence of another can result in medical bills, lost time from work and other expenses. Contact us for a free case evaluation.