Personal injury cases can be quite complex. Add to this, the confusion when you do not fully understand all the legal terms involved in the proceedings or being discussed by your New Orleans personal injury lawyers.

You may be familiar with some basic legal terms. But other terms may require some explanation before you really understand what they mean and how they relate to a personal injury case. Read further to learn the terms you need to know for your New Orleans personal injury case.


An affidavit is a document containing information that is then signed by someone who swears to its accuracy, typically by signing under oath before a notary public or equivalent. This is the written equivalent of a sworn testimony.

Case Value:

The amount of compensation a personal injury claimant can reasonably expect to receive, given the nature and extent of their damages and other factors involved in the case. Case values vary from case to case and are also affected by whether the case is settled out of court or at trial


In a personal injury case, causation refers to whether the defendant’s actions were the actual or proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages. Proximate cause means that the plaintiff’s damages were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. Causation is a necessary component of negligence. Without causation, the defendant cannot be held liable for the plaintiff’s damages.

A legal dispute in which the plaintiff seeks compensation from the defendant for losses they have sustained due to the defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct or to have that conduct ceased.


This is simply someone who makes a claim to an insurance company to collect some type of insurance coverage.

Contingency Fee:

A fee payable to a personal injury lawyer only if the case is settled outside of court or by verdict at trial, typically one-third of the total amount of the settlement or verdict.


Compensation awarded to the plaintiff in a personal injury case, but also used to refer to negative repercussions and financial losses a party has suffered due to another party’s conduct. Damages may be economic, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses that have an easily calculable monetary value. Damages can also be non-economic, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.

The party in a personal injury case against whom the legal action is brought, and from whom the plaintiff is requesting damages.


An interview conducted by an attorney outside of court during the discovery phase of personal injury litigation. During a deposition, a lawyer from one side questions a witness for the opposing side while the witness is under oath and being recorded.


The phase of personal injury litigation during which the opposing parties exchange evidence and information. Discovery may involve taking depositions, requests for documents and information, requests for medical examinations, and more.

Duty of Care:

The legal obligation we all have to be careful in our conduct so that other people are not injured by our actions or inactions

Expert Witness:

A witness who is certified as an expert on a given subject, and who may provide opinions to the jury regarding technical issues within their area of expertise.

First-party Claim:

A claim made by an injured person against their own insurance company. For example, a claim made by a homeowner against their homeowners’ insurance policy for fire damage.


A legally enforceable claim against another party for damages suffered due to that party’s negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct. In a personal injury case, liability is established by the plaintiff proving that the defendant’s negligence caused them to be injured.


In the context of a personal injury claim, a lien is a third party’s (e.g., a medical provider or insurance company’s) right to be reimbursed from the proceeds of the personal injury claim, for benefits and services provided to the plaintiff prior to the settlement or judgment. Some benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and others, must be paid back by law.


The steps and processes involved with a lawsuit are called litigation.


Behavior that falls short of the reasonable duty of care an individual has to ensure that others are not injured due to their conduct. Negligence is the most common basis for personal injury claims.

Pain and suffering:

An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may be entitled, including physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, the loss of enjoyment of life, and/or loss of consortium.

Personal Injury:

Physical, psychological, or financial harm suffered by one party because of another party’s improper actions or inactions. This is opposed to property damage, which is injury to property only.


The party in a legal case who initiates the legal action. In a personal injury case, the injured party is typically the plaintiff.


An agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a personal injury case that resolves the matter outside of court. A reasonable settlement fully compensates the plaintiff for all their damages, including their past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and income, pain and suffering, and other tangible and intangible losses.

Prescriptive Period:

The time within which a lawsuit must be filed and beyond which it will be forever barred, sometimes referred to as the statute of limitations.

Third-party Claim:

In the context of a personal injury, a third-party claim is an insurance claim filed by someone who is neither the insured person nor their insurance company. For example, an insurance claim filed by an auto accident victim against the insurance company of the driver who hit them.


The judge or jury’s final decision regarding the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s damages. In a personal injury case, the verdict establishes how much compensation the defendant must pay to the plaintiff and is legally binding.

Our Experienced New Orleans Personal Injury Lawyers Will Guide You Through Your Claim

For more information or help with pursuing a New Orleans personal injury claim, contact Dudley DeBosier to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We will be happy to explain the legal terms involved in the process and assist you with recovering compensation for your damages.

At Dudley DeBosier, every prospective plaintiff gets a free case assessment. We love to help people protect their future and get what they deserve. Contact us today to speak with a personal injury lawyer you can trust.

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