Lawyers (or attorneys – same thing!) are notorious for using large, complex words, even in everyday conversation. Perhaps it makes us feel like all those years and cost of school are being put to good use- getting our money’s worth one $1 word at a time. Whatever the reason, use of large or uncommon (sometimes even Latin) words can leave the everyday person confused and frustrated trying to understand what their attorney or a legal document means.
In the personal injury world, there are a few special terms that will help you understand what is going on in your case:
NEGLIGENCE – Essentially, this means failure to do what a reasonable and prudent person would do under similar circumstances. That, of course leaves lots of room for argument (e.g., What is considered reasonable and prudent?), which is why lawyers have our work cut out for us with adjusters and juries alike.
TORT – Not to be confused with a rich German multilayered cake (spelled Torte), in the legal world, a tort is “A civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages.” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019). This also flows into another term, tortfeasor, which is the person who commits the tort.
When you are rear ended because of someone else’s negligence, the tort is the act of rear ending you while the tortfeasor is the responsible driver.
COMPARATIVE FAULT / NEGLIGENCE – Arizona law allows for allocation of shared responsibility for an injury victim’s damages.
If you are stopped at a red light and are rear ended by Driver A, your vehicle damage and injuries from the accident would be solely caused by Driver A’s negligence (without any contrary facts). If, however, Driver A’s vehicle is rear ended by Driver B after hitting your vehicle and is pushed into the rear of your vehicle a second time, both drivers may share responsibility for a percentage of your damages and injuries.
These are just a few terms you may confront as you or a family member or friend navigates a personal injury (an injury to your person). If you have specific questions or need advice on how to proceed with your claim or a potential lawsuit to recover for damages to you or your property, please visit my website, call me at 928-985-9800, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE CONSULTATION.