Glossary

Abuse or Mistreatment of a Nursing Home Resident - If a nursing home resident is mistreated or abused, he or she may have a right to bring a claim for damages. Examples of such conduct include permitting bedsores to occur or failing to properly treat them, dropping a patient, permitting a patient to fall while walking or fall out of bed, improperly medicating a patient and many other types of unsafe actions or inactions. To learn more, see our nursing home abuse and mistreatment website at NursingHomeCase.com.

Answer - After an injured person files a complaint with the court, the alleged wrongdoer (called "the defendant") has a limited amount of time to respond. This response document is called the Answer. It sets forth the defendant's position regarding claims made by the injured person. Defendants can admit or deny the claims and set forth a legal defense.

Assault and Battery - Assault and battery are often heard together; however, they are separate legal claims. An assault is putting a person in immediate fear (or apprehension) of physical injury or offensive contact. Battery is actually using force to harm another individual.

Although most times there is no insurance coverage for intentional conduct like this, sometimes a claim may be brought, such as against an employer who hires the perpetrator without adequately checking for a prior violent background. Or, if the person who commits the assault and battery was intoxicated, a claim may sometimes be brought against the provider of the alcohol. There are other exceptions too, so if you are the victim of an assault and battery, you should contact us to discuss your rights free of charge.

Birth Injuries - Birth injuries are injuries to a baby, which occur during delivery and are often caused by medical negligence. The type of injuries and degree of negligence may differ from case to case. Usually, birth injuries occur in situations where a medical professional failed to act or responded inadequately to a complication or medical condition during a birth. Such injuries include cerebral palsy, brain damage, Erb's palsy and many other birth problems that most times people do not realize are caused by malpractice. For more, read our page on birth injuries.

Breach of Duty - In order to prove a negligence claim, the injured party must prove certain factors. He or she must prove that the wrongdoer had a duty to take certain actions and that the person failed to do so. For example, a driver on the road has the duty to keep a proper lookout. If he texts while driving, he has breached that duty.

Burden of Poof - In personal injury and wrongful death cases, the person bringing the case - the plaintiff - has the responsibility to prove each legal element of the case. This responsibility is called the "burden of proof." In these cases, like other civil cases, the person must prove that it was more likely than not that each element of the claim occurred. The judge or jury reviews all of the evidence and decides if the plaintiff has met the burden of proof. It's important to note that the burden of proof rests with the injured person; the alleged wrongdoer is not required to prove that his or her version of the events in true.

Catastrophic Injuries - Catastrophic injuries are severe physical injuries that require extensive medical treatment and are often long lasting or permanent in nature. These injuries may result from any kind of accident and may affect all body systems. For more, read our page on spinal cord injuries or our page on brain injuries.

Causation - In order to prove a negligence claim, the injured party must prove certain factors. One of those factors is "causation." It is not enough to prove that the defendant did something wrong. And it is not enough to prove that an injury occurred. The injured party must also show that the defendant's actions or inactions caused the injury. If the injury occurred because of factors beyond the defendant's control, he or she may not be held responsible.

Comparative Fault - New York's comparative negligence statute states that when both of the people involved in an accident were negligent, the court (judge or jury) must determine each person's percentage of fault. The court then awards damages proportionally. Comparative fault law is an important idea for injury victims; it means that you can often recover compensation even if you were partially at fault. Many times during negotiations we are able to use the concept of comparative fault to obtain a settlement for our clients, even if the accident was partially their fault.

Complaint - Sometimes called a "petition," a complaint is a document that the attorney for the injured person files with the court. The complaint outlines the case against the wrongdoer and gives that person notice that a personal injury lawsuit is being filed. A copy of the complaint is also "served" on the wrongdoer, usually by an authorized process server.

Damages - Damages are the amount of money that the court determines will compensate ("compensatory damages") an injury victim or his or her loss or injury. They can also be an amount of money that the court imposes to punish ("punitive damages") a wrongdoer for especially bad conduct, often referred to as "gross negligence."

Defendant - The defendant is the person - the alleged wrongdoer - against whom a lawsuit has been filed. Defendants can be both people and businesses. In personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, it is possible to have multiple defendants when more than one party is potentially responsible.

Jurisdiction - Jurisdiction refers to which court is authorized to handle your personal injury case. A series of rules of civil procedure apply to determination of jurisdiction, and determining jurisdiction can be a tricky issue in complex personal injury cases involving multiple parties in various locations across the United States.

Licensee - The term licensee is often used in a slip-and-fall case. A licensee is someone who enters the property of another with the owner's consent. The owner owes such a person a duty to keep the property safe and to warn the licensee of any known dangers. If the landowner fails this duty and the licensee is injured, he or she may have a claim against the owner for those injuries. However, even if you enter someone's property without consent, you may still be entitled to bring a claim. For more, read our page on slip and falls.

Medical Malpractice - Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, chiropractor, dentist or other medical/health care worker performs his or her duties in a manner that is negligent or fails to perform duties that he or she is required to perform. This means, the worker's action (or inaction) does not meet the industry standard of care and, as a result, the patient suffers injury. For more, please read our medical malpractice page.

Negligence - Negligence is the most common cause of action for personal injury lawsuits. In order to prove that negligence occurred, an injury victim must prove that the defendant had a duty and that he or she breached that duty in some way. The injury victim must then prove that the breach of duty caused the harm that was experienced. Finally, the victim must prove damages, showing the court the true impact of the accident on his or her life.

Plaintiff - The plaintiff is the person who files the lawsuit with the court. In personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs are injury victims. Surviving family members can also be plaintiffs in wrongful death lawsuits when a loved one has been killed due to the negligent or reckless acts of another.

Soft Tissue Injuries - Soft tissue injuries may be caused from a single event (e.g., whiplash) or over a period of time (repetitive activity). Generally, soft tissue injuries are bruises, sprains or strains to the muscles, ligaments or tendons. Injuries to the internal organs or bones, such as fractures, are not considered soft tissue injuries. For more, read about soft tissue injuries, as well as whiplash, back, neck and disk injuries.

Statute of Limitations - The law imposes strict time limits, called statutes of limitation, on legal actions. After the statute of limitations has passed, an injury victim or the surviving family of someone who has been killed, is not allowed to bring a lawsuit. The statute of limitations can be an issue in complex cases; parties often dispute when a person knew or should have known about an injury. It is always best to talk with a lawyer, even if you believe that the statute of limitations may have passed in your case.

Tort - A tort is another name for a civil wrong that can be addressed by awarding damages. Personal injury and wrongful death cases fall under tort law.

Witnesses - Both plaintiffs and defendants can call witnesses to testify at trial. Witnesses may be bystanders who observed the accident, medical professionals who treated the injured person or family members whose lives were turned upside down. Expert witnesses can also be called on to give their professional opinions about aspects of your case.

Workers' Compensation - Workers' Compensation refers to benefits given to workers who have been injured during the course of their employment. Employees may receive compensation for costs such as lost salary, medical treatment, job rehabilitation and other types of compensation depending on the situation. In return, the employer and fellow employees cannot be sued by the employee for the same injuries/incident. Such benefits are required for all United States workers by state and federal law. However, sometimes an injured employee may have a right to bring a separate claim and obtain a settlement or award from an insurance company representing another party who was at fault besides his or her employer. This is called a Third-Party Action. To learn if you have a right to bring such a claim, contact us today. For more, read our Workers' Compensation page.

Wrongful Death - A wrongful death claim is a legal action by survivors of a deceased individual. In order to have such a claim, the loved one's death must have been caused by the wrongful actions of another party. The decedent's loved ones who bring the claim may receive monetary compensation for their losses. Every state has a wrongful death statute; however, the laws may differ greatly. For more, read our wrongful death page.