Personal Injury Claim: The Basic Definitions for Maximum Compensation

By Shannon Gurnee
In Lifestyle
April 22, 2023

Today, on Redhead Mom, I’m sharing a partnered guest post about personal injury claim and the basic definitions for maximum compensation.

personal injury

Personal injury is a legal term that covers a wide range of situations where someone suffers harm because of another party’s actions or inactions. You could file a claim for personal injury if someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing hurt you.

This blog post will explain some basic personal injury definitions that you should know for your claim. These definitions will help you understand your rights and options and how a personal injury lawyer can assist you in pursuing compensation for your slip and fall injury, auto accident injury, etc.

Here are some of the most common terms you will encounter in your personal injury claim:


Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care or diligence, causing harm or damage to another person or property. There are four types of negligence: contributory, comparative, gross, and vicarious liability.

Contributory negligence means the plaintiff is partly responsible for their injury or loss, while comparative negligence reduces the plaintiff’s damages by their proportion of fault. Gross negligence involves reckless disregard or willful misconduct and may lead to punitive damages. Vicarious liability holds one person liable for the negligence of another. 

The duty of care, violation of duty, causation, and damages are the four elements a plaintiff must prove to establish negligence.


The term “liability” means “obligation” or “responsibility” for another’s deeds or debts. There are different types of liability, depending on the source and nature of the obligation. Some common types of liability are:

  • Contractual liability: This arises from a breach or violation of a contract, such as failing to deliver goods or services or paying damages for negligence or fraud.
  • Tort liability: This arises from a wrongful act or injury that causes harm to another person or property, such as defamation, assault, or trespassing.
  • Statutory liability: This arises from a violation of a law or regulation, such as tax evasion, environmental pollution, or consumer protection.
  • Vicarious liability: This arises from the actions or omissions of a subordinate or agent, such as an employee, a partner, or a contractor.


Examples include a car owner being responsible for an accident caused by their driver, a manufacturer being responsible for injuries caused by defective products, a landlord being responsible for tenant injuries due to unsafe conditions, and a parent being responsible for debts incurred by their minor child.


Damages refer to the monetary compensation awarded by law for a breach of duty or violation of rights. The two main types of damages are compensatory, which aims to restore the injured party to their pre-harm state, and punitive, which aims to punish the wrongdoer and discourage future wrongdoing.

Punitive damages may be granted when the wrongdoer’s actions are egregious, irresponsible, or malicious. For example, if a person is injured by a drunk driver who had an interlock installation device on their car but bypassed it, they may have a claim for punitive damages.

Examples of damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. The amount awarded depends on factors such as the severity of the injury and degree of fault and is subject to applicable law.


Causation is the relationship between two variables or events, where one causes the other to occur or change. There are various types of causation, including necessary and sufficient causation, probabilistic causation, and causal mechanisms. 

  • Necessary and sufficient causation: One event or variable is required and sufficient for another to happen, such as oxygen causing a fire. 
  • Probabilistic causation: One event or variable increases or decreases the likelihood of another, such as smoking increases the risk of lung cancer.
  • Causal mechanisms: The processes or pathways that explain how one event or variable leads to another event or variable. For example, a semi truck towing a trailer can cause traffic congestion by blocking lanes or slowing down other vehicles.

Statute of Limitations

It is the prescribed period during which a legal action or criminal accusation must be brought. States implement statutes of limitations to prevent cases from dragging on indefinitely and the loss of evidence and credibility of witnesses. Personal injury lawsuits, for instance, typically have a two-year statute of limitations in most jurisdictions.

Burden of Proof

It refers to the obligation of a party to prove its claims or defenses in a court of law. There are different types of burden of proof, such as beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence, and preponderance of the evidence

The type of proof burden depends on the case’s nature and severity. For example, in criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assumption of Risk

Assumption of risk is a legal concept where a person who willingly participates in a hazardous activity cannot hold someone else accountable for any resulting harm. Two types of assumptions about risk exist: express and implied. 

An express assumption of risk involves signing a written waiver acknowledging the risks of an activity and releasing any potential liability. For example, someone who signs a waiver before skydiving or getting a car diagnostics test has expressly assumed the risk of injury or damage. 

Implied assumption of risk involves the individual’s actions indicating they accepted the danger. For instance, attending a baseball game and getting hit by a foul ball is an implied assumption of risk since they were aware of the possibility.

Loss of Consortium

When one spouse suffers harm or dies due to another’s carelessness or crime, the surviving spouse may sue for “loss of consortium” or compensatory damages. 

For example, suppose a spouse is injured in a car accident and can no longer perform household duties, provide caregiving or offer companionship. In that case, the other spouse may have a claim for loss of consortium.

Emotional Distress

Another category of legal damage is emotional distress, which refers to the mental or emotional harm a person experiences due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. There are two types of emotional distress: negligent infliction and intentional infliction.

Negligent infliction occurs when someone causes emotional distress by acting carelessly or disregarding others. Intentional infliction occurs when someone causes emotional distress by acting deliberately or maliciously. For example, if a person is harassed, threatened, or assaulted by someone else, they may have a claim for emotional distress.


A settlement is an agreement between the parties to end the litigation without going to trial. It can be reached at any stage of the legal process, and it may involve the payment of money, the performance of an action, or the dismissal of the case. A settlement can be binding or non-binding, depending on the terms of the agreement.

Jury Verdict

After hearing the evidence and arguments put forth by both sides at a trial, a jury will render a verdict. A jury verdict can be unanimous or split, depending on the number of jurors required to agree. 

Either party can appeal a jury verdict if they believe there was an error of law or fact in the trial. Some examples of jury verdicts are “liable” or “not liable” in civil cases or “guilty” or “not guilty” in criminal cases.


Personal injury law is a complex and dynamic field that requires the expertise of qualified personal injury attorneys like an auto accident lawyer, a pedestrian accident attorney, etc. You may be eligible for financial compensation to cover medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more if someone else’s carelessness or misconduct hurt you.

It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of basic personal injury definitions before pursuing a claim. Familiarizing yourself with these terms can empower you to make informed decisions and work more effectively with your personal injury lawyer. Being on the same page increases your chances of negotiating a favorable settlement or achieving a successful outcome in court.

About the Author:

Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing mini golf with her friends and family in her spare time.

About Has 2170 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

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