If you were injured due to the negligence of another individual or business, you have many legal options available that can be financially beneficial. A personal injury lawyer will investigate the events that led to your injury to provide you with a realistic look at what compensation you may be eligible for. Some of the language associated with personal injury lawsuits can appear intimidating at first. To help you better understand, below is a guide to five common terms and their meanings.
Your Guide to Personal Injury Case Terms
1. The Plaintiff & Defendant
There are two sides to any personal injury case—the side of the injured party and the side of the person thought to be responsible for the injury. Legally speaking, the plaintiff is the injured person who initiates the lawsuit and the defendant is the individual that the plaintiff is suing. Your personal injury lawyer will clarify your side in the case.
When the plaintiff initiates the lawsuit, they file a legal document called a complaint. This document serves as an official announcement of the plaintiff’s intention to seek a monetary award for an injury. The document includes a list of the allegations, a detailed report of the injury, the name of the defendant, and the amount of money sought. Your personal injury lawyer will craft this document to ensure all relevant details are included.
Once the plaintiff files the complaint, the defendant is tasked with filing a response known as an answer. An answer must address every allegation contained within the initial complaint by admitting that they are true or false. The answer is also the time in which the defendant will contest the facts presented in the plaintiff’s complaint. The law in Massachusetts mandates that an answer must be filed no later than 20 days after receiving the plaintiff’s initial complaint.
4. Burden of Proof
A personal injury lawsuit requires that the plaintiff prove their case, also known as meeting the burden of proof. In meeting the burden, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act with reasonable care, the defendant violated or breached their duty, and the defendant’s breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injury. In Massachusetts personal injury cases, the burden of proof is known as the preponderance of the evidence.
5. Comparative Negligence
The law in Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. This means that a plaintiff can only recover a monetary award if their share of fault for the injury was less than 51%. Once a court determines that a plaintiff was more at fault than the defendant for their injury, all chances of a recovery award are barred.
For over 15 years, attorney Peter Bellotti of Bellotti Law Group, has been helping Greater Boston area residents get the financial recovery they deserve. Since personal injury cases are highly contested, this personal injury lawyer offers free consultations for clients to ensure the case is viable. For a free consultation, call (617) 778-1000 or visit the firm’s website for a list of their practice areas.