In a civil case, the plaintiff is the one who has filed a lawsuit. The target of their lawsuit is referred to as the defendant.
You may have heard that someone who won a lawsuit was awarded damages. Damages is simply the term legal professionals use to refer to the money a plaintiff receives if a jury or judge decides in their favor in a civil case.
Damages can also take multiple forms. For example, the term economic damages refers to the objective financial losses a victim may have sustained as a result of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Examples of such losses may include medical bills and lost wages.
There are some instances when victims can also recover compensation for noneconomic damages. For example, an accident can leave a victim struggling with pain and suffering. Although pain does not necessarily have a strict monetary value, a victim may still be compensated for it in certain circumstances.
Determining liability is one of the most critical tasks a personal injury attorney can assist a client with. Although injured victims can sometimes recover compensation for their losses without necessarily having to prove that their accidents resulted from negligence (such as if they were injured at work or if they were injured in a car accident in a no-fault state like Massachusetts), often, a victim must show that they were injured because another party was careless. This party, who is responsible for compensating a victim (often through their insurance), is the liable party.
When a lawsuit is filed, both the plaintiff and the defendant have a right to request and review various types of information and documentation relating to a case. This phase of the lawsuit, during which both sides can discover what information each one has, is aptly referred to as discovery.
This may seem like a very basic term. However, those outside the legal profession sometimes misunderstand what it means to sue someone.
Suing someone occurs when a plaintiff files a lawsuit to seek damages in court. Before this is necessary, though, an injured victim may file a claim to recover from the negligent party’s insurance company.
It is often possible to settle a claim with an insurance company instead of going to court. Filing a claim against someone is not technically the same as suing them. A victim may proceed to sue a defendant if their insurer won’t offer a fair settlement or if they do not have insurance.