Regardless of where you currently stand in the process, you will likely benefit from getting a basic grasp of these fundamental personal injury terms. These terms will likely be referenced during talks with your lawyer and in information you may come across when researching your legal options online. By having built a basic understanding of these terms, you will be able to more confidently navigate the personal injury claims process.




Commonly referenced in legal communications as “strict liability”, liability describes the state in which a person or party is responsible for something happening. As an experienced Memphis, TN personal injury lawyer from Darrell Castle & Associates can explain, in the context of personal injury law, if a person or party claims that they are responsible for causing your injury, they effectively “claim liability”. For example, if a grocery store fails to adequately warn store patrons of potentially hazardous conditions, such as slippery or wet floors, and subsequently someone slips and becomes injured, the grocer may be found liable, as they are legally responsible for maintaining a safe environment for all visitors.


Perhaps one of the most commonly referenced terms in personal injury disputes, negligence refers to the nature of behavior or actions that directly contributed to harm suffered by the victim. For example, if you were injured crossing a street by a driver that was distracted because they were texting, the act of them texting may be considered as negligence.


As a plaintiff in a personal injury claim, damages refer to money that is being sought by means of legal action. Damages may also be referred to as “compensatory damages” and are intended to help make up for losses that are a direct result of the injury. Generally when damages are being discussed, there are two main categories, which are economic and non-economic.

  • Economic damages are easily quantifiable losses suffered by the victim such as medical bills, property damage, and treatments required to recover.
  • Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, as they usually pertain to emotional conditions that are a result of the injury.

Statute of Limitations

When you hear the term “statute of limitations” think of this as a time limit for filing your complaint that is set by law. Statute of limitations vary based on the type of personal injuries that were sustained and where the incident occurred.


Many personal injury cases will reference “torts” or “intentional torts”. In a legal context, a tort is a factor that contributed to the injury which can be considered as wrongful, but is not a crime. Nearly every personal injury lawsuit will involve torts that are based on negligent behaviors on behalf of the party that is allegedly responsible.

In the context of personal injury law, intentional torts are wrongful actions or behaviors that caused harm to the victim. Intentional torts are also commonly classified as being a crime, such as assault, battery which carry both civil and criminal liability.

Burden of Proof

Burden of proof refers to your legal obligation as a plaintiff to prove your allegations. In personal injury lawsuits as the plaintiff, you must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the defendant acted negligently and as a result is liable for damages that were sustained.