Personal Injury Terms to Know as a Plaintiff

When you file a personal injury claim, you’ll likely encounter a myriad of terms and concepts that may not be completely familiar to you. Following are some terms you’ll likely hear as you go about seeking compensation for your injuries.

Who’s Who in Your Personal Injury Case

There are two main parties in a personal injury case: the plaintiff, and the defendant. Each will have attorneys working with them.


The plaintiff is the person filing the lawsuit. If you have been injured due to someone’s negligent actions, you would be the plaintiff in your personal injury case.


The defendant is the party being sued. In a personal injury case, they’re the party responsible for your injuries (and thus obligated to pay damages).

Terms Regarding Liability in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases involve proving that the defendant is responsible for your injury. A number of terms are used when conveying this.


Liability is simply legal responsibility for something. In the instance of a personal injury case, the party who caused your injury is held liable for having done so.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the time limit you have in which to file a lawsuit. In most cases, personal injury cases in Illinois have a statute of limitations of two years. After two years, the responsible party can no longer be held liable for your injuries.

Duty of Care

A duty of care is an obligation to provide some measure of care toward another party. For instance, a retail manager owes visitors to their store a duty of care when it comes to their safety on the premises. However, they might not owe that duty to someone who is trespassing. To succeed in a personal injury case, you need to prove that someone owed you a duty of care.


Negligence is the failure to uphold an expected standard of care toward others. You need to prove that the defendant was negligent in upholding their duty of care toward you and that that negligence caused your injury.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is the obligation to furnish evidence to prove a point. In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. As such, it is your responsibility to prove that the defendant is guilty. The defendant is not obligated to prove their own innocence (i.e. they’re innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around).

Compensation in Personal Injury Cases

To be viable, your personal injury case needs to be able to recover sufficient damages to be worth the cost. There are multiple types of compensation in personal injury cases.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are measurable damages incurred as a result of your injury. They typically include lost time from work, medical expenses, lost earning capacity, and other monetary losses.

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are harder to measure, and include such items as pain and suffering. Monetary compensation for pain and suffering can be calculated in a number of ways, including as a multiple of your economic damages.

Seeking Damages for a Personal Injury

If you have been injured due to the negligence of someone who owed you a duty of care, you may be able to hold them liable for any economic and non-economic damages they caused. To do so, you’ll need a personal injury attorney. Contact us today to review your case.

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