Legal Jargon Unpacked: A Glossary of Common Personal Injury Terms
Menu Call Now

Legal Jargon Unpacked: A Glossary of Common Personal Injury Terms

You might consider taking legal action if you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence. If you do, you’ll see a lot of personal injury terms you might not have encountered before. The following are a few of those terms and their definition.

The attorneys with Sand Law can help you get the money you deserve. We’ll also help you navigate the complexities of a personal injury lawsuit. Call 701-609-1510 or contact us online for a free consultation.

Common Personal Injury Terms and Their Definitions

These are some of the terms that most commonly crop up in personal injury cases, and brief definitions of each.


This person takes legal action by filing a lawsuit or a formal complaint in court. They believe that someone else’s actions have caused them harm, and they want the court to provide a remedy or compensation. If you take legal action, you’ll be the plaintiff.


The defendant is the person or entity the plaintiff is accusing of causing the harm the plaintiff suffered. They’re the ones who have been sued in the legal case and must defend themselves against the plaintiff’s claims.


A tort is a legal term for a wrongful act or an action that causes injury to another person. This wrongful act can take many forms, from something as common as a car accident to more complex situations like medical malpractice. When someone commits a tort, they can be held legally responsible for the harm they caused.


Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care in their actions or behavior, and as a result, they cause harm or injury to another person. It’s a failure to be as careful as a reasonable person would be in a similar situation.

Comparative Negligence

In cases where the plaintiff and the defendant share some degree of fault for the injury, North Dakota law follows the principle of modified comparative negligence. The court assesses the degree of fault for each party and reduces the final compensation awarded to the plaintiff based on their level of responsibility for the harm.

Suppose you’re in a car wreck. An investigation shows the other driver was 80% to blame, and you were 20% at fault. Your damages or financial losses (more on these later) come to $100,000. The court will subtract 20% ($20,000) of your compensation. That means you’ll receive $80,000 instead of $100,000.


Liability means legal responsibility. If the court finds someone liable, they’re legally accountable for the harm they caused another person. The court can require them to compensate the injured party.

Contingency Fee

When a lawyer charges a contingency fee, they only get paid if they win the case for their client. Typically, the fee is a percentage of the money recovered from the defendant. This allows people who can’t afford upfront legal fees to pursue their claims.


A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant to resolve the legal dispute without going to trial. It usually involves the defendant agreeing to pay the plaintiff a certain amount in exchange for the plaintiff dropping the lawsuit. More than 90% of personal injury cases are resolved through a settlement.

Statute of Limitations

This is a legal time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed after an injury or harm occurs. If the plaintiff misses this deadline, they may lose their right to sue, regardless of the strength of their case. The North Dakota statute of limitations is six years.


Damages are the financial compensation awarded to the plaintiff if they win their case. These damages cover various losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by the injury.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages are a type of compensation that addresses the physical and emotional distress experienced by the plaintiff due to the injury. These damages go beyond financial losses and aim to compensate victims for the intangible harm caused.


Discovery is the legal process during which both parties in a lawsuit gather evidence and information from each other to build their respective cases. This can involve requesting documents, conducting interviews, and other investigative activities.


A deposition is a formal interview where a witness or party in the lawsuit answers questions under oath. This process typically occurs in the presence of lawyers and is used to gather information and establish a record of the witness’s statements.


Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a neutral third party, called a mediator, helps the plaintiff and defendant reach an agreement outside of court. The mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties.


Arbitration is an alternative to a trial where a neutral arbitrator decides the case’s outcome. These decisions are often binding, meaning they are final and legally enforceable.


The tortfeasor is the person or entity responsible for the wrongful act or tort that resulted in the injury.


Subrogation occurs when an insurance company, having paid a claim to an insured person, steps into the insured person’s shoes and sues the responsible party to recover the money they paid for damages.


An affidavit is a written statement made under oath and signed before a notary or another authorized official. It is a formal way to declare the truth of specific facts.

Breach of Duty

A breach occurs when someone fails to fulfill their legal obligation or duty, often related to negligence. It’s a key element in establishing liability because it shows that the at-fault party didn’t act as they should have, leading to harm to others.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause is the direct cause of an injury or harm. It’s another essential concept in determining legal liability because it establishes a close connection between the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s injury.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Injured Because of Someone Else’s Negligence

These terms are crucial in understanding personal injury law and the legal processes that follow when someone suffers harm due to another’s actions or negligence. If you find yourself in such a situation, speak with a Sand Law attorney. We’ll work to help you obtain maximum compensation.

You can use our online form or call 701-609-1510 for a free review of your case.