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Law Glossary: Personal Injury

Law Glossary

The law has its own set of terms that may not always be clear to people outside the profession. The following definitions will help explain some of the legal terms that are commonly used in personal injury cases:

Burden of Proof

This refers to the obligation of the plaintiff (the person bringing the legal action) to prove that what he or she is saying is true. This standard of proof varies according to the type of case. In personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means it’s more likely than not that the defendant caused your injuries. This is a lower standard of proof than what’s required in a criminal case.


Damages are money payments recovered in court to compensate the plaintiff. They are classified as either economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are quantifiable, meaning they can be easily measured or counted. This includes money for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages aren’t quantifiable and include money for pain and suffering.

Duty of Care

This obligation requires a particular standard of conduct or care be met in order to protect someone else from harm.

Gross Negligence

An action or failure to act that recklessly disregards the consequences to another person’s safety or property.


Negligence is carelessness that falls below a reasonable standard of care. It doesn’t involve a deliberate intention to harm but instead describes a failure to act or a failure to act in a sufficient manner. For example, if a store fails to clean up a spill in a timely manner and you slip and fall and are injured as a result, the store may be guilty of negligence. Many malpractices cases also fall under the category of negligence. In Nevada, you must prove several elements in order to prove negligence. You must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to you and breached that duty. This must have caused your injuries, and you must have suffered damages as a result.

Punitive Damages

Damages, or money, that is greater than necessary to compensate a plaintiff for a loss. These types of damages are intended to punish defendants who have acted with malice or committed fraud. In Nevada, the amount of punitive damages is limited and varies according to the amount of other damages you receive. An injured person may recover punitive damages if injured by a drunk driver.

Statute of Limitations

This is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you’ve been harmed. The statute of limitations in Nevada varies according to the type of case. For many types of personal injury cases, for example, you have two years from the date of the accident to file your case.

For more information, download our free guide to understanding if a personal injury lawsuit is inevitable. You’ll learn about what factors to consider when deciding whether to file a lawsuit.

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