Personal Injury: Know the Legal Language

plank-dennis-Lancaster-County-PennsylvaniaBy Dennis L. Plank, Attorney

When you suffer a personal injury, you have many concerns. Will you make a full recovery? How will you pay your medical bills? What will happen if you can’t return to work?

If you’ve suffered an injury in Lancaster County due to the negligence of another, you have legal options to alleviate some of those worries and seek financial compensation for lost work, medical bills, and more.

However, the complexities of a personal injury case, along with confusing legal language, often cause more stress and worry. Understanding these important terms can help:


To adjudicate means to make a judgment in a legal case.

Assumption of Risk

In a personal injury case, the defendant may use the assumption of risk defense to argue that the injured person knowingly participated in an activity that could cause them harm. To be effective, however, the injury must be related to the inherent risk of the activity. For instance, a spectator at a baseball game might assume the risk of injury from a foul ball, but not from collapsing bleachers.

Civil Rights

Civil rights are a group of rights possessed by all citizens under the protection of the U.S. Constitution. If a person, company or government agency violates those rights, an individual can sue to recover damages.


A claim is a legal demand for compensation for an injury due to negligence.


Comparative Negligence

In some personal injury cases, both parties are at fault. Comparative negligence is a legal rule that determines how much fault belongs to each party. Some states follow a pure rule, where each party can seek compensation, but their final award is reduced by their percentage of fault. Pennsylvania, however, follows a modified rule, meaning an injured party must be less than 51 percent at fault to seek compensation from the other party.


Damages is a term for the financial compensation awarded in a personal injury case. Economic damages can compensate for financial losses due to medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages address the less-tangible consequences of an injury, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of the ability to pursue activities of daily living and leisure.


The defendant is the person or group sued in a personal injury case.


Fraud occurs when a person provides false information regarding a personal injury claim, files a claim for an injury that never occurred, or provides false evidence to try to prove a claim. Filing a fraudulent claim can result in a loss of insurance coverage, fines, or even jail time.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a total disregard for the safety of another that goes beyond simple carelessness or a failure to act. An example might be a nursing home that fails to provide a resident with food and water. Damages awarded are often higher in cases of gross negligence and may include punitive damages that are meant to punish the defendant.


A legal action brought by one party, the plaintiff, against another, the defendant, to seek damages for an injury.


In a personal injury case, liability means that one party is legally responsible for the other party’s injuries.


Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or harm to another person. To prove it, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a responsibility to avoid causing harm, that he failed to meet that responsibility, and that the breach of responsibility caused the injury.

Partial Disability

A partial disability is any kind of disability in which a worker is no longer able to perform a job at full capacity.


Personal Injury

Personal injury is an injury to a person’s body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property.


An agreement between both parties in a lawsuit, resolving the claim for an agreed-upon sum of money.

Strict Liability

Also known as absolute liability, strict liability is legal responsibility for injury or harm regardless of whether there is proof of fault or negligence. Such cases typically involve injury due to defective products, in which the plaintiff does not need to prove the manufacturer acted carelessly but only that the product caused harm.


A verdict is a judge or jury’s final decision on a case.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death is a lawsuit filed against an individual or company for the death of a person due to negligence or wrongful behavior. Often filed by a family member, the lawsuit typically seeks damages for pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, loss of earning capacity and more.

These are just a few of the terms you should know if you’ve suffered a personal injury. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the legal waters alone. Contact the Law Offices of Going and Plank for a free consultation. We will determine if you have a case and help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Dennis Plank

2 Replies to “Personal Injury: Know the Legal Language”

  1. After an operation at Brandywine Hospital, my ulna nerve was damaged. After a year, no better . It affected my ring and little finger on my right hand. Any hope of compensation?

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