Glossary of common personal injury terms

If you are pursuing a claim for injury your solicitor will use certain legal terms or send you documents to read and you will come across terminology that may not understand and below are some  examples which will assist you in understanding the process in personal injury claims:-


Claimant: A person making a claim for compensation.

Defendant: A person who is being sued for a claim for injury and losses arising out of the accident.

Limitation: The rule is that the limitation period for personal injury claims is three years. This three-year period runs from the date on which the accident or incident occurred in which the injuries were caused; or three years from the date of ‘knowledge’. In the majority of cases, it will be clear when the personal injuries were caused. There are however there some exceptions depending on the type of claim you are pursuing and your Solicitor will be able to advise you on the limitation date for your own case. A failure to commence a court action within the relevant period will mean almost certainly that your legal right to sue will be lost.

Negligence: Fault or wrongdoing where someone owes another person the duty to take care and not cause an accident or disease.

Causation:  once you have established that there has been negligence you are required to prove that your injury and/or losses have arisen from the breach of duty.

Damages:  your claim for compensation for injury and/or financial losses.

Contributory negligence:  This is where both parties are held partially liable which has resulted in your injury/loss and this is determined by a % and will be deduced from any damages that may be awarded to you.  An example is when there is a 50/50 split on liability and this will mean that your damages will be reduced by 50% to reflect the liability apportionment.

Barrister: A Barrister is someone who will represent your case at Court, provide legal written advice and assist in the preparation of various court documents.

Costs:  The Solicitor and Barrister’s legal fees for the work they have undertaken in pursing the claim on your behalf.

General damages:  This is commonly known as the claim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and   this is your claim for personal injury which compensates you for the following:-

  • Physical pain, suffering and impairment
  • Mental pain and anguish – In addition to physical pain, memories of the accident can cause ongoing trauma, resulting in persistent stress and anxiety
  • Lower quality of life – Pain, mobility restrictions and mental anguish can make performing even everyday tasks more challenging resulting in increasing dependence on others.
  • Loss of a unique career – If the injuries do not allow you to go back to your former place of employment and you are forced to change careers, you may be entitled to a claim for damages.
  • Difficulty finding another job – Looking for a job after an accident that has resulted in considerable physical and mental pain can be even more difficult than usual.

Special damages:   in addition to your claim for general damages, you may also be rewarded for any direct financial losses which may include any of the following:-

  • Loss of earnings
  • Prescription charges and medical costs
  • Property damage
  • Insurance excess
  • Damage to Vehicle
  • Special care aids and equipment
  • Adapted transport
  • Car hire
  • Travel expenses
  • Cost of assistance
  • Costs of care
  • Adapted accommodation
  • Therapy
  • Out of pocket expenses


Annie Rana


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