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Lawyer Jargon

Talking with your attorney can be really confusing when they start using words you’ve never heard before. When working with your lawyer on a personal injury case, you’ll need to spend ample amounts of time communicating with them in order to build the strongest case you can. In order to have the most efficient communication with your attorney, it can help to have some understanding of common legal jargon that they often use. Here’s a list of some general words and phrases that you may hear while in court or just simply talking with your lawyer:

Personal Injury:

Any case in which physical, financial, or emotional injury was sustained. Personal injury cases are considered civil torts rather than criminal lawsuits.


A wrongful act that does not always require a lawsuit. It is the grounds on which the plaintiff is seeking damages.


The rational reasons why a case was brought into court by someone.

Cause of Action:

The legal facts that give someone the lawful right to bring an action against another person. Lawsuit: When a plaintiff takes court action against a defendant with the goal of receiving compensation for an injury.


The process of taking legal action and/or filing a lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations:

The amount of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit before the case is no longer able to be made.


A person who brings a case against another in court. A plaintiff is the one initiating a lawsuit.


A person against whom the case is made. A defendant is the one being accused of a crime.

Demand Package:

A set of documents laying out evidence showing details of an accident, injuries sustained, and fault.


Losses caused by a personal injury accident.

1. Economic Damages: Loss of money in the form of things like medical bills and lost wages. Aso referred to as special damages. Economic damages are easier to calculate than non-economic damages.

2. Non-economic Damages: Intangible loss in the form of things like pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Also referred to as general damages.


A formal objection to a lawsuit saying that although a plaintiff’s point facial, it is invalid and not sufficient enough to find a valid cause of action.


An oral testimony given outside of court by a witness. It can be used later in the case as written evidence. A deposition can be made during the pre-trial.


Failure to care for something properly resulting in damage or injury to another person.

1. Gross Negligence: Reckless behavior that a reasonable person would not commit. The most serious form of negligence. Ex: Medical malpractice

2. Contributory Negligence: When someone isn’t 100% at fault for a crime, but they did contribute in some way. Ex: Texting and driving

3. Comparative Negligence: When the person bringing the claim is also found legally responsible for an accident. May not result in compensation to the plaintiff. Ex: A slip and fall case where a “wet floor” sign was posted

4. Vicarious Negligence: When someone is indirectly responsible although they did not commit the crime. Ex: A dog attack


Something that makes up for a loss. Typically compensation is made in the form of money paid to the plaintiff.


When a jury determines that the defendant is not guilty or that the evidence brought against them is not sufficient enough to convict.


When a jury determines that the defendant is guilty.


A defendant requesting that a higher court review the court’s decision after being found guilty.


The final decision made by the court and judge, the consequences of the case, and how it will be carried out.

How We Can Help

At Barfoot and Schoettker, we don’t treat you like a number. We want to help you in your time of need and handle your personal injury case for you. We pride ourselves on giving personalized attention to all of our clients. Let us guide you through the process of filing a case. We don’t just want to talk with you, we want to understand you. Contact us today so we can start a conversation.

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