5 Personal Injury Terms to Know Before You Sue
Personal injury claims can be complicated and overwhelming, which is why you need a skilled lawyer to help you. Even with help, however, there are a lot of unfamiliar terms involved. To find out more about personal injury, check out these five common terms that you should know before you sue or file your claim.
Causation refers to what caused the injury, and there are two types of causation. The first is cause-in-fact or actual cause, which refers to the exact reason for the injury. For example, if someone was texting while driving, and they hit you, the cause of the accident is “texting while driving.” This is often verified with the “but for” test: but for the driver texting, the accident wouldn’t have happened.
The second type of causation, proximate cause, is more complicated and refers to injuries that were foreseeable. In the above example, the driver should have known that texting while driving could lead to an accident, which makes texting the proximate cause of the accident.
However, if the driver was not texting and was otherwise driving correctly at the time of the accident, but an accident still occurred, injuries were not foreseeable and there is no proximate cause.
2. Punitive Damages
When you get your settlement, it may include fines for many types of damages, including punitive damages. Punitive damages aren’t really designed to help you, the plaintiff. Instead, they are used to punish the defendant. The court determines if punitive damages are appropriate, and such charges are more common if the defendant was abnormally aggressive or careless during the incident.
Punitive damages are rare, however, only awarded in about 5 percent of verdicts. While there are no federal regulations regarding when to apply punitive damages, the Supreme Court does suggest that lower courts should focus more on the reprehensibility of a given offense.
3. Pecuniary Damages
Pecuniary damages are types of damage that are easy to measure, such as in the cost of a visit to the ER or other medical bills related to the accident. They may also include the costs of property replacement if your vehicle or other items were damaged in the accident.
Injuries may also prevent you from working for a period of time, but any lost wages are easily added and included in pecuniary damages. These are easy to prove as damages, so they are the most common types of damages involved in a personal injury case.
4. Non-Pecuniary Damages
Non-pecuniary damages are harder to measure than pecuniary damages because they often stem from mood or mental state. Non-pecuniary damages can include mental pain and suffering, which include changes in personality, depression, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of old interests, or any other mental alteration due to the accident.
Physical pain and suffering are also non-pecuniary damages, and include scars, nerve damage or any physical deformity or injury that may require ongoing medical attention.
Ideally, after the accident, you can immediately return to work, but you may not be able to work long after the claim is closed and you’ve already received your settlement. If you can prove you won’t be able to support yourself after the injury, you may get damages for future lost wages, retirement funds, or other financial losses.
5. Premise Liability
Premise liability simply means that if someone visits your home and is injured, you may be responsible for their injuries. This is because the homeowner is responsible for any hazards; such as holes, broken steps, or icy spots that may result in injury. In some cases, simply warning the visitor of the danger is enough to protect yourself, but the courts may determine you should have fixed the issue before the incident.
These definitions will help you understand the personal injury claim process, so that you and your attorney can get the settlement you deserve. If you would like to know more about personal injury terms or settlements, contact us at Frenkel & Frenkel Attorneys and Counselors today.