If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to the negligence of another party, you may benefit from obtaining a better understanding of the various personal injury terminology that you’re likely to be exposed to throughout the course of your case.

Regardless of your familiarity with common legal terminology, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer pertaining to your unique case.

Personal Injury Terminology

Here, we detail a glossary of terms that are commonly used when speaking about personal injury cases:


Accident Report: An accident report is generally issued by law enforcement to document the event of an accident, typically an auto accident. This can include details from the scene, witness testimonies, etc.

Arbitration: This is typically used as an alternative solution in civil cases, as opposed to going to trial. When the two parties involved cannot reach an agreeable settlement, then an independent arbitrator can issue a legally binding resolution to the case.


Benefit: This is something that the plaintiff can receive as compensation for the damages sustained during a case.

Burden of Proof: In personal injury cases, the burden of proof resides on the plaintiff to adequately prove that they have suffered harm as a direct result of the negligence committed by another party.


Causation: This is an essential element in any personal injury case. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of the damages sustained by the plaintiff. This is often challenging because the plaintiff must not only show that negligence was committed, but that it was the direct cause of the damages and that no other factors were directly responsible.

Civil Code: This is the set of laws governing civil cases. Personal injury laws and civil codes vary from state to state.

Claim: The legal action that the plaintiff takes to seek compensation from the defendant for the damages sustained.

Compensation: The financial benefits that are awarded to the plaintiff in personal injury cases.

Contingency Fee: The personal injury law firm’s fee structure, where they only collect payment from their client if they are able to win the case and secure compensation.


Damages: Used to define the injuries, harm, or financial losses that a plaintiff has suffered in a personal injury case.

Defendant: The person whom a civil suit or criminal prosecution is being brought against.

Duty of Care: A professional’s legal responsibility to act as a reasonable person under their profession would under similar circumstances.


Expert Witness: An expert in their specific field that is often used by personal injury lawyers to provide supporting testimony.


Fault: The legal responsibility for damages. The individual who is at fault is the one who is responsible for causing an injury due to their negligence or carelessness.


Judgment: The decision issued by a jury or judge in a legal case.


Liability: The responsibility of one party for the damages sustained by another party. In personal injury cases, the liable party refers to the defendant.

Litigation: The legal process of taking a dispute through the court system in any type of civil case.

Loss of Consortium: A group of losses commonly used in wrongful death claims. This can include the loss of a parent, child, companionship, or other damages.


Medical Malpractice: A type of personal injury when a medical professional commits negligence that directly causes harm to the patient as a result.

Mitigating Circumstances: Any factors that may have contributed to an accident but were not necessarily the direct cause. Mitigating circumstances must be something that was out of the person’s control and could not have been reasonably avoided, such as bad weather in a car accident.


Negligence: An unreasonable act of carelessness or recklessness or the failure to act that results in causing harm to another party.


Plaintiff: The person who is seeking compensation for the damages allegedly caused by the defendant in a personal injury case.

Proximate Cause: The direct cause of an injury. Generally, the event that sets in motion the series of events that leads to the resulting injury.

Punitive Damages: Damages that are awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury case when the negligent actions committed by the defendant are particularly severe or egregious. They are intended to punish the defendant and deter them from engaging in any similar actions in the future.


Reasonable Care: The level of care that a reasonable person would use under the same or similar circumstances.


Settlement: An agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant used to resolve a legal case.

Standard of Care: The level of care that a reasonable person would use under the same or similar circumstances. In legal cases, this is typically used in reference to professionals, such as doctors or lawyers.

Statute of Limitations: The amount of time that a person has to file a claim after they have been injured or a crime has been committed. In California, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is generally two years after the injury occurred.


Tort: Another term used similarly as personal injury, is defined as a wrongful act that directly violates another person’s legal rights.


Verdict: The final decision made by a jury or judge in a trial or legal case.


Workers’ Compensation: An employee insurance system that provides protection and benefits to employees who become injured or ill as a result of their job. Workers’ comp coverage is mandatory for most businesses in California.

Wrongful death: A type of personal injury that results in the death of a person due to the negligence of another party.


Q: What Is the Term Used for Personal Injury?

A: Another legal term often used for personal injury is “tort.” A tort is defined as an act or omission that causes harm or injury to another person. Tort laws or personal injury laws are in place to provide relief to the injured party for the damages caused by another party, as well as to impose liability on the at-fault or responsible party that caused the harm and prevent them from committing further harmful acts.

Q: What Are the Categories of Personal Injury?

A: There are many different categories or types of personal injuries, given that personal injury is an umbrella term for any injuries or damages caused by the fault or negligence of another party. In most cases, personal injuries are separated into seven broad types, which include motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents or workers’ comp, medical malpractice, slip & fall, product liability, animal bites, and wrongful death.

Q: What Is Another Name for Personal Injury?

A: Another term similar to personal injury is “bodily injury.” Bodily injury is typically used in criminal court cases in reference to a crime that ultimately causes the victim’s injuries, such as an assault that resulted in the victim sustaining bodily injuries. Personal injury is usually used in civil cases, where the sustained injuries were a direct result of an accident or negligence rather than an intentional or criminal act.

Q: What Is the Legal Definition of Personal Injury?

A: The legal definition of personal injury is when an individual suffers an injury caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party. In personal injury cases, the negligence of the at-fault party is typically classified as either carelessness or recklessness in more severe cases. The sustained injuries by the victim can be physical, mental, and emotional, as well as property damage.

Consulting With a Reputable Personal Injury Law Firm

If you or a loved one has experienced damages due to the negligence of another party, then it’s crucial that you understand the legal process that lies before you and the various terminologies commonly associated with your particular personal injury case.

Easton & Easton exclusively represents victims of personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our family of attorneys understands how seriously an injury can affect your life and has over 100 years of combined legal experience at our disposal to build you a comprehensive strategy to ensure that you receive the most favorable outcome possible for your unique circumstances.

Contact us and schedule a consultation today.