If you have been injured in a bus accident in the Boston area, you may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

“Legalese” can be very confusing and intimidating to those who do not practice the law. Luckily, unless you are an attorney, you will probably have little use for various specialized legal terms in your own life.

However, there are some common legal terms that most people should know the definition of in case they ever need to file lawsuits or take other forms of legal action. The following are 10 such terms:


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.

According to studies and surveys, when accident victims seek compensation, those who hire attorneys are far more likely to arrive at settlements or be awarded damages than those who represent themselves.


Again, except in certain cases, an injured victim must prove negligence to prove they are eligible to recover compensation. Negligence occurs when:

  • A party has a duty to someone;
  • A party breaches that duty;
  • An individual or multiple individuals sustain injuries as a result of the breach.


Litigation is a fairly general term. It essentially refers to the various processes and steps involved in settling legal disputes.


Testimony is a verbal statement made under oath in a court. Someone may be asked to provide testimony for a number of reasons. For example, if an accident victim is suing a defendant who disputes their version of events, a witness may be asked to testify in court to either confirm or cast doubt on a plaintiff’s story.


Someone may need to be legally compelled to testify in court. A subpoena is essentially a written order letting someone know they are legally required to provide testimony.


An affidavit is very similar to testimony in that it is a statement made under oath. The difference is that an affidavit is a written statement instead of the spoken one.

All that said, understanding the definitions of certain common legal terms does not qualify someone to represent themselves when taking legal action against a party whose negligence resulted in them being injured or harmed in some capacity.

Research confirms this. According to studies and surveys, when accident victims seek compensation, those who hire attorneys are far more likely to arrive at settlements or be awarded damages than those who represent themselves. Research has also shown that victims who hire personal injury lawyers tend to recover much more compensation than those who do not.

Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence? If so, our Boston personal injury attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. have the expertise necessary to optimize your chances of recovering the full amount of compensation for which you may be eligible. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online today or calling us at (617) 742-1900 to schedule a free consultation.

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