When you’re suffering from an injury, your focus should be on healing and recovery, not deciphering complex legal terms. We’ve compiled a list of common legal terms you might encounter in the course of your personal injury case in Georgia.
Please keep in mind that the state of Georgia treats personal injury cases differently than other states.
Personal Injury – Damage, harm, or suffering to a person’s body or mind. In Georgia law, the causes of personal injury are covered under tort law and tried through lawsuits brought by the person suffering the injury against the person or entity that caused it.
Personal Injury Litigation – Lawsuits brought by injured people against the people or entities that caused the injury due to negligence, a preventable accident, or misconduct with the goal of being awarded compensation or damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit – The act of formally bringing a civil complaint against a person or entity stating that they acted with negligence or carelessness that resulted in an injury or harmful accident. The person filing the suit is known as the plaintiff, and the person or entity who stands accused is known as the defendant.
Damages – Money to be awarded as a result of winning a personal injury lawsuit. There are two types of damages in Georgia – compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory Damages – Damages that cover economic loss on the part of the plaintiff as a result of the injury. Compensatory damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for loss of quality of life, and property damages.
Punitive Damages – Damages that the defendant is required to pay as punishment for their wrongdoing related to an accident or injury. Punitive damages can be awarded when the defendant is found to have committed fraud; acted with willful misconduct, malice, or wantonness; acted as an oppressor; or acted with negligent disregard for the potentially harmful consequences.
Contributory Negligence – A plaintiff’s partial responsibility for their own injury. In cases where the plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for their own injury, Georgia law allows the court to determine the extent of that fault and reduce damages by an appropriate, corresponding percentage.
Claim – A formal legal petition made by an injured person seeking damages for their injury or losses.
Claim Adjuster – A representative of the plaintiff’s insurance company who investigates a claim made against the plaintiff, including authorizing payment for medical expenses.
Compensation – the monetary award resulting from a personal injury lawsuit.
Fault – Responsibility for causing an injury. A party can be “at fault” for a number of reasons, including negligence, lack of care, ignorance, or lack of skill. In other words, not acting responsibly, not taking proper steps to prevent an accident, not knowing any better, or not having the correct skills to perform a job properly.
Judgment – The result of a lawsuit, including the final determination of fault.
Subrogation – The ability for a third party, typically a defendant’s medical insurance company, to sue for damages covering payments made on a defendant’s behalf, like medical bills.
Negligence – A failure to exercise proper and reasonable care in a given circumstance.
Settlement – An agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant on the amount of compensation to be awarded in a personal injury case.
Defendant – The person or entity named as the responsible party in a personal injury case. In other words, the person being sued.
Liability – The responsibility for actions or lack of actions that cause injury or harm.
Plaintiff – The person or entity making a legal claim against another person or entity for causing injury or harm. In other words, the person who is suing.
Pain and Suffering – Physical, mental, or emotional harm.
Medical expenses – Any payments made in the course of treating an injury that can be included as part of compensation in a personal injury claim.
Lost wages – Any income that was lost as a result of an injury that can be included as part of compensation in a personal injury claim, including lost salary or wages from missing work, lost sales commissions, or lost benefits.
Expert Witness – A person who has specific expertise in a technical area related to a personal injury case.
Adjudicate – To make decisions on a case, typically a responsibility held by a judge.