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Personal Injury Glossary: Breaking Down Key Terms and Phrases

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Most individuals going through the personal injury claims process have never been through it before. Even if they have, each case will be different from the last. During a time when you should be trying to heal, you may be trying to full of stress trying to understand what exactly all the legal jargon means.


Here, we provide a glossary that includes some of the basic key terms and phrases you will hear when it comes to your New York personal injury case.


This term refers to a limit on the amount of damages that one may be awarded in their personal injury case. In New York, there is no cap on the economic or non-economic damages that may be awarded to an injured party seeking compensation for their losses.


This is what an injured party will seek compensation for after an accident. Damages are divided into two categories:

  • Economic damages: medical bills, past and future lost wages, loss of household income, property damage, etc.

  • Non-economic damages: pain and suffering, emotional injuries, loss of companionship, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.


This is the person, organization, or entity that an injured party will bring a personal injury lawsuit against, as they will be “defending” themselves in court.


Essentially, this term is used when showing who is responsible for an accident that caused an injury. If someone is liable for an accident, they are responsible for paying the injured party compensation in a personal injury case.



This term is used when proving liability in an accident. Negligence occurs when someone’s careless or reckless acts, directly or indirectly, cause someone else harm. If someone’s negligence caused the accident, then they would be liable for the injuries and other damages sustained.


New York follows a pure comparative negligence system. This means that more than one party may be found to have acted negligently in an accident. An injured party may be found to share some negligence in an accident. If this is the case, the injured party’s total damages would be reduced by the percentage of fault that they shared in the accident.


In New York personal injury cases, you will hear the term “no-fault” insurance state. This means that individuals are generally reimbursed for their damages sustained in an accident by their own insurance company, no matter who is determined to be at fault.


*Note: Your own insurance protection may not be enough to cover the damages you incurred in the accident. If this is the case, or if you sustained a “serious” injury, you can still file a third-party claim against the liable party.

Personal Injury

This is a general legal term used to describe a category of insurable offenses that causes harm to another person. To prove a personal injury claim, it essentially must be shown that a negligent act caused an injury and that person is liable to pay damages to the injured individual.


If you bring a personal injury lawsuit against another, you will be considered the plaintiff. The person or entity you bring the lawsuit against will be the defendant.

Statute of Limitations

In regards to a personal injury case, this refers to the time period you have to file a personal injury claim before you are unable to do so and otherwise pursue compensation for your injuries. In New York, the statute of limitations in personal injury cases is three years from when the accident occurred that caused the injury.

Questions Regarding Your Personal Injury Case?

If you or a loved one was injured due to another person’s negligent actions, you need legal representation to ensure your rights are protected. Your financial recovery is dependent on having someone on your side who can help you fight against the New York insurance companies.


With over 75 years of collective experience, our compassionate and dedicated attorneys will work to ensure that your voice is heard and your story is told.


Contact Foley Griffin at (888) 966-8480 to schedule your no-fee, no obligation consultation with one of our Nassau County personal injury attorneys.

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