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Personal Injury Legal Terms

During the course of your Phoenix personal injury lawsuit, you may come across unfamiliar terminology - some personal injury legal terms that you should really know.

Listed below are twenty-five common terms you may encounter while pursuing justice for your personal injury claim.


When a lawsuit is unsuccessful in receiving a favorable settlement or resolution, the unsuccessful party may file an appeal to a superior court to review the final decision.

Assumption of Risk

A voluntary acceptance of a known risk of damages under specific circumstances where such a risk is reasonable is considered an assumption of risk.

Bad Faith

Generally used in reference to insurance companies, acting in bad faith can include not fulfilling contractual obligations or violating basic standards of honesty.

Catastrophic Injury

A serious and often debilitating injury resulting from the actions of another person or entity is considered a catastrophic injury. These types of injuries are severe and will often permanently change a victims quality of life.

Civil Action

A civil action lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for damages caused by a civil wrong, or the actions of another person or entity.

Class Action Lawsuit

A lawsuit that joins together a group of individuals or companies with common interests or similar circumstances who file a claim as one entity. Class action lawsuits are usually used in product liability cases where a defective product or dangerous drug has caused similar injuries in a group of people.

Comparative Negligence

Also known as contributory negligence, comparative negligence describes to what extent the injury victim contributed to their own injury. Insurance companies award compensation based on degree of negligence, so they will often use comparative negligence to limit monetary payouts, regardless of the severity of injuries.

Compensatory Damages

Money awarded to a personal injury victim to recover losses related to the accident. Compensatory damages can be awarded for both economic and non-economic damages.

Contingent Fees

Fees that are agreed-upon prior to accepting a case, usually a portion of the settlement. Contingent fees are not paid to an attorney until after the case has been settled; they are contingent on recovery.


The compensation an injury victim may be eligible to recover. Damages can refer to any type of loss experienced due to an accident, including economic and non-economic damages.

Duty of Care

The legal obligation that individuals have to behave in a manner that will not inflict harm on others. Duty of care can include either an individuals actions or failure to act.

Gross Negligence

An act of negligence committed with conscious indifference to the consequences is considered gross negligence.

Intentional Torts

Similar to gross negligence, intentional torts are deliberate acts of malicious intent that cause harm to another.


A persons legal responsibility for causing an accident that resulted in the injury of another. Liability determines who is responsible for damages related to the accident.


The process of filing a lawsuit to pursue justice through civil action. Litigation can be resolved through a settlement or through a trial.

Loss of Consortium

The inability to have normal marital relations due to an injury. Loss of consortium is usually coupled with loss of companionship claims.


The inability of a professional, such as a doctor or lawyer, to perform their professional duties in a manner deemed reasonable of a person in their position. Malpractice is also referred to as professional misconduct.

Mass Torts

A large number of claims against one product or entity. Mass torts are usually filed as a class action lawsuit.


A careless action, or inaction, of an individual or entity that results in the harm of another. Most personal injury lawsuits are based on proving the negligence of the liable party.

Pain and Suffering

Also known as human damages, these refer to the loss of quality of life in an injury victim. Pain and suffering is considered a non-economic damage and can be difficult to quantify without the help of an attorney.

Punitive Damages

Intended to punish an individual for an intentional act of malice that resulted in the harm of another. Punitive damages are awarded separately from compensatory damages.

Reasonable Person Standard

Refers to a hypothetical individual who exhibits average care and conduct for their particular position. A reasonable person standard is used when determining liability, especially in malpractice cases.

Statute of Limitations

The allotted time frame an injury victim has to file a lawsuit. Failing to file an injury claim within the statute of limitations can prevent an individual from recovering damages, regardless of the severity of their losses.

Underinsured Motorist

Added to some auto insurance policies, this provides coverage in the event that the negligent driver does not have enough liability insurance to fully cover damages. Underinsured motorist coverage is paid from the injured partys insurance company to the injury victim.

Uninsured Motorist

Protects the policy holder in the event that they suffer losses caused by a driver without liability insurance. Similar to underinsured motorist coverage, uninsured motorist coverage is paid from the injured partys insurance provider to the injury victim.

If YOU need help with your personal injury lawsuit - or perhaps an explanation of personal injury legal terms, we can help.

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