Joint and Several Liability: Refers to a plaintiff’s ability to hold a group of defendants both individually and collectively liable for all damages suffered by the plaintiff. State law varies widely on the nature and effect of joint and several liability. For example, in some states, the plaintiff can recover the entire amount of damages from one defendant, even if all of the defendants are liable. In other states, the plaintiff can only collect the entire amount of damages from one defendant if the defendant is at least 50% negligent.
Jury: A body of citizens sworn to give a true verdict according to the evidence presented in a court of law.
Lawsuit: A lawsuit is a formal legal action made by the injured party (the plaintiff) against another accused negligent person (the defendant) in which recovery is sought for damages suffered by the plaintiff. The lawsuit is formally initiated with the filing of a complaint in the proper court of law.
Liability: Just stating that someone caused an injury or death isn’t enough. It has to be proven, and it has to meet the legal requirements to establish liability. This legal conclusion, that someone is formally responsible for injuries, or death, suffered by another, is more complicated than just reading a traffic collision report to see who a police officer has concluded was the cause of an accident. It may be necessary to establish liability for many different people, corporations, or government entities involved directly or indirectly in an incident. For example, it might involve proof that one negligent person was driving a vehicle and was responsible for causing the death of another, proof that a second person owned the vehicle and gave the first person permission to use it, proof that a third person or corporation employed the driver and that the driver was in the “course and scope” of his employment, and so on. Establishing liability for injuries is every bit as important as establishing the value of the damages that the injured person has suffered. An experienced personal injury attorney will carefully review all the facts of an incident and apply the law to those facts in order to prove liability of all responsible parties.
Litigation: The process of carrying on a lawsuit.
Mediation: A method of resolving tort claims without a judge or jury, involving an neutral third party who tired to help the two parties reach a mutually agreeable personal injury settlement. Many states require the parties to engage in mediation, resulting in many settlements occurring without having to go to trial.
Medical Records: In a lawsuit, insurance claim, or wrongful death case, the injured person’s medical records are typically the single most important piece of documentary evidence. These records, showing the treating physicians’ diagnoses, prognoses, and treatments will establish what specific injuries have been sustained, will show what the long-term expectations are either for recovery from the injuries or for permanent disability, and will specify the types and costs of medical treatment that has been and will be received.
Negligence: Negligence generally means that a person’s conduct falls below a legally recognized standard of taking reasonable care under the circumstances. It may develop from carelessness or thoughtless conduct, or a failure to act when a reasonable person under the same circumstances would have so acted.
Negligence per se: Negligence that is established as a matter of law, not by a jury.
Notice of Claim/Injury: If you are injured due to the negligence of a government employee, federal law and many states require the injured person to formally notify the governmental entity in writing regarding the date and extent of his or her injuries and accident, as well as the amount of money requested for the injury. Failure to adhere to the strict requirements regarding the contents of the required notice and the time deadline for filing the notice may permanently bar the injured person from bringing a claim in the future. Therefore, if a government employee causes you injury, it is extremely important that you immediately contact an attorney familiar with the applicable laws and notice of claim requirements of your state.
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