Legal Glossary

Demystifying Terms in Personal Injury Claims

In the intricate world of law, terminology can often seem like an entirely different language. As a personal injury lawyer practicing in Missouri and Illinois, I understand that navigating the legal landscape can be challenging, especially when faced with complex jargon and unfamiliar terms.

My goal with this glossary is to bridge that gap, offering you a concise and accessible resource to help decipher the legal language. I believe that informed clients are empowered, and I hope this glossary proves to be a valuable tool in your legal journey.


A written statement confirmed by an oath or affirmation for use as evidence in court.


A form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party makes a binding decision after hearing arguments and reviewing evidence.

Breach of Duty

Failure to uphold a legal duty, leading to another person’s harm.

Burden of Proof

The duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge.


The relationship of cause and effect between one event or action and an injury.


A formal assertion or a demand for compensation.

Comparative Negligence

A legal principle that reduces the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover based on the percentage of fault attributed to them.

Compensatory Damages

Compensation awarded to the plaintiff to cover actual losses (like medical bills or lost wages).

Contingency Fee

A fee structure where an attorney is paid a percentage of the damages awarded to the plaintiff, rather than an upfront charge.


Monetary compensation requested by, or awarded to, a plaintiff to compensate for harm or loss suffered.


The person or entity being accused or sued in a lawsuit.


Testimony taken under oath outside of court, often used during the discovery process.


The pre-trial process where both parties gather and exchange information and evidence.

Duty of Care

A responsibility to ensure the safety or well-being of others.


A legal action where one party makes a claim against another.


Being responsible by law for something, especially in terms of monetary damages.


A form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party assists both sides in reaching a voluntary settlement.


Failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person.

Personal Injury

Physical or mental harm to a person resulting from another’s negligence or intentional actions.


The person who brings a case against another in a court of law.

Punitive Damages

Damages awarded in excess of actual injury costs, intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct.


A resolution agreed upon by both the plaintiff and defendant to resolve the claim without going to trial.

Statute of Limitations

The time within which a lawsuit must be filed after an injury has occurred.

Strict Liability

Liability that does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm.


A written order commanding someone to attend a legal proceeding or produce evidence.


A wrongful act or infringement of a right leading to civil legal liability.


The individual or entity who commits the tort, the wrongful act or infringement.

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