Navigating the complexities of a personal injury case can often feel like learning a new language. Understanding the legal jargon is crucial to grasp your case’s nuances and communicate effectively with your legal counsel. Below, you’ll find key personal injury terms defined by our experienced Florida personal injury lawyers. If you were hurt in an incident that wasn’t your fault, call us at (561) 655-1990.

personal injury terms

General terms

Personal injury

A personal injury refers to physical, emotional, or psychological harm an individual suffers, typically due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. This term is the umbrella under which various types of injuries, such as those from car accidents or slips and falls, are categorized.


A lawsuit is a legal action initiated by one party against another in a court of law. In the context of personal injury, it’s the formal process through which the injured party seeks compensation from the party believed to be at fault.


The plaintiff is the injured party who initiates the lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries.


The defendant is the party being sued in a personal injury case. This is typically the person or entity alleged to be at fault for causing the plaintiff’s injuries.


A claim is a formal request for compensation made by the injured party, usually to an insurance company, before potentially filing a lawsuit. “Claim” is often used interchangeably with “cause of action.”


Compensation refers to the money awarded to the plaintiff for injuries and losses due to the defendant’s actions or negligence.


Subrogation is a legal principle allowing an insurance company to pursue a third party that caused an insurance loss to the insured. This process helps the insurer recover the amount paid to the insured for the loss.


A judgment is the final decision made by a court regarding a lawsuit. It may include the compensation awarded to the plaintiff, if any.


To adjudicate means to make a formal judgment or decision about a problem or disputed matter, often used in the context of a court determining the outcome of a lawsuit.


A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant (or their insurers) to resolve the claim without going to trial. It typically involves the defendant or insurer agreeing to pay the plaintiff a specified amount.

Terms about negligence and liability


Negligence occurs when an individual fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances, leading to someone else’s injury.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence is a common law tort rule arguing that the plaintiff’s own negligence played a role in causing their injury, potentially reducing or eliminating their entitlement to compensation.


Fault determines who is legally responsible for causing the injury. Establishing fault is crucial in personal injury cases, as it directly impacts the outcome of the claim or lawsuit.

Terms about damages


Damages represent the monetary compensation sought or awarded in a personal injury case. They aim to cover the costs associated with the injury and its repercussions on the victim’s life.

Compensatory damages

Compensatory damages are intended to financially compensate the injured party for the losses directly related to the injury, including medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

Pain and suffering damages

Pain and suffering damages address the non-economic losses suffered by the plaintiff, such as physical discomfort, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life following an injury.

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages, intended to punish the defendant for particularly harmful behavior and deter similar future actions.

Ready to get started on your case? Call us.

Understanding these personal injury terms can empower you to navigate your case confidently. Whether discussing your case with your attorney, reading through legal documents, or assessing the merits of a settlement offer, familiarity with this terminology is key to making informed decisions and effectively advocating for your rights.

When you’re ready to start your case, call Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath at (561) 655-1990. We look forward to hearing from you.