Personal Injury Glossary

As a personal injury attorney in Colorado Springs, we know that filing a personal injury claim can be confusing and overwhelming. Throughout the process, you will be exposed to complex terminology that might not make sense to you. Understanding the terminology used throughout a personal injury claim is an essential part of comprehending the actions that are taking place. To help you better understand personal injury claims, Kim Welch Law has put together a glossary of common terms and phrases that are used.


When a defendant files a written pleading in response to a plaintiff’s complaint. An answer includes the defendant’s version of events, where he or she admits or denies the allegations.

Assumption of Risk

An individual knowingly and voluntarily exposed themselves to a certain risk or danger. When this is proven, that individual is ineligible to receive compensation for damages.

Bad Faith
Bad faith involves a party consciously misleading or deceiving an individual.
The initial civil action an injured party takes to receive compensation. Claims detail any negligence on the defendant’s part.
Class Action
When there are multiple similar claims against a defendant, they can be combined into a single lawsuit. Class action lawsuits are often used when going up against large companies.
A written pleading that formally begins a lawsuit. A complaint includes identification of the parties involved, lists the reasoning behind the lawsuit, and declares what type of relief is being sought.
The compensation paid to an injured party. Compensatory damages, or economic damages, are quantifiable and include things such as medical bills and lost wages. Punitive damages, or non-economic damages, cannot be quantified and include things such as emotional distress and suffering.

A defendant is the individual, company, or organization at fault and being sued.


Requires both legal parties involved in a lawsuit to disclose all relevant information and findings and answer questions under oath.

Duty of Care
An American law principle that states individuals of society are obliged to take certain actions to protect others from unnecessary harm.

An award of damages assigned by a judge or jury following a verdict.

A person’s legal obligation as it pertains to a settlement or court order. In personal injury cases, this refers to the responsibility to pay awarded damages.
Losses can be tangible or intangible. A loss is anything a plaintiff loses as a result of an accident.

Malice is when someone intentionally harms another individual.

Modified Comparative Fault

If a plaintiff is found to be partly responsible for an accident, the amount they can be awarded for damages may decrease. Each state has different rules for how much a plaintiff can recover if they are found to be partly at fault.


A written or oral request for the court to rule on a legal issue. Motions can include a motion to dismiss, a motion to vacate a default judgment, and a motion to strike.

The failure to act with reasonable care.
Proximate Cause
The idea that a party’s actions are primarily responsible for causing a chain of events that led to an accident. If the proximate cause was not present, then the accident would not have happened.
The party that is claiming harm against a defendant.
Premises Liability

A property owner’s responsibility to create a safe environment for others to occupy. An example of a premises liability would be a store owner’s failure to clean up a leak or a spill, which then led to a slip and fall accident.

Occurs when deliberate actions are taken that were not meant to harm someone.

A settlement occurs when both parties reach an agreement and end a lawsuit or claim.

Statute of Limitations

A lawsuit must be filed within certain time limits, also known as a statute of limitations. If a claim is not filed within the allotted time, then the plaintiff gives up their right to file a lawsuit and further pursue the claim.

A wrongful act that causes injury. This can include actions such as negligence, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and automobile accidents. An act done purposefully is called an “intentional tort.”
Wrongful Death

When an individual dies due to the negligence of another person, their survivors can seek to be compensated for their loss. Usually, spouses and dependent children are able to sue for wrongful death.

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