A Comprehensive Legal Dictionary for Personal Injury Cases

Title: A Comprehensive Guide to Personal Injury Legal Terms


Navigating personal injury cases, such as car accidents, workplace incidents, and medical malpractice, can be overwhelming for individuals unfamiliar with the legal system. Understanding key legal terms is essential for building a strong case and securing fair compensation for injuries. This article provides a comprehensive dictionary of personal injury legal terms to assist victims in navigating the legal system, protecting their rights, and communicating effectively with their attorneys.

Personal Injury

Personal injury refers to any harm or injury caused to a person’s body, mind, or emotions due to someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.

Example: A pedestrian is hit by a car running a red light, resulting in a broken leg, bruises, and emotional trauma.


Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm or injury to another person.

Example: A driver rear-ends another vehicle at a red light while texting, neglecting their duty to drive safely.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is the legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm to others.

Example: A driver fails to check their blind spot while merging, causing a collision and injuries to another driver.

Breach of Duty

Breach of duty occurs when someone fails to meet the legal duty of care, resulting in harm to another person.

Example: A doctor misdiagnoses a patient and prescribes incorrect medication, worsening the patient’s condition.


Causation refers to the link between a person’s negligent actions and the harm or injury suffered by the plaintiff.

Example: A customer slips on a wet floor in a grocery store due to the store’s failure to provide warnings or clean up promptly.


Damages are the monetary compensation awarded to a personal injury victim to cover losses like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Example: Damages may include compensation for medical bills, lost income, physical pain, and emotional distress resulting from an accident.


Liability is the legal responsibility for an injury or harm caused to another person.

Example: A store owner may be held liable for injuries caused by a slip and fall incident on their premises due to their duty to maintain a safe environment for customers.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that assigns fault between the plaintiff and defendant and reduces damages accordingly.

Example: Two drivers contribute to a car accident—one runs a red light, and the other speeds. The first driver is found 20% at fault, and the second driver is found 80% at fault.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that denies recovery for a plaintiff if they contributed to their own injury, even if the defendant was also negligent.

Example: A pedestrian crossing outside a crosswalk is hit by a speeding car, but the pedestrian’s contributory negligence may prevent them from seeking recovery.

Assumption of Risk

Assumption of risk limits a defendant’s liability when a plaintiff voluntarily engages in a known risky activity.

Example: A skier assumes the risks associated with skiing by signing a waiver when purchasing a lift ticket at a ski resort.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations sets the legal time limit for filing a personal injury claim, varying by state and injury type.

Example: In Los Angeles, California, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the injury or accident.


A tort is a civil wrong that causes harm or injury, allowing the injured party to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Example: A consumer injured by a defective product may file a lawsuit alleging product liability against the manufacturer or seller.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability holds an employer or principal responsible for their employees’