When you suffer injuries in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you will need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent business’ or property owner’s insurance company. The litigation process can be confusing when you have never had to sue another party before. It can be even less understandable when you do not know the meaning of basic legal terms that are used when discussing your case.
Essential Legal Terminology to Know When Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit
While each case is different, there are common terms that are regularly used in premises liability and other personal injury cases. Here, we explain legal terminology that you will most likely hear in your case:
- Plaintiff. The plaintiff is the party bringing the lawsuit against another negligent party. In your case, you would be the plaintiff.
- Complaint. You start your lawsuit by filing a complaint in court. In your complaint, your attorney will briefly explain your accident, the business’ or property owner’s negligence in causing it, how you were injured, and the amount of money you are requesting.
- Defendant. The negligent party that caused your injuries is referred to as the defendant in your complaint and at court. This is the party that you are suing.
- Prayer for relief. The prayer for relief is the section of your complaint where you explain to the court the amount of money that you are asking for.
- Answer. Once you file your complaint and it is served on the defendant, the defendant will file an answer to your lawsuit admitting or denying your allegations and raising any additional defenses to your claim.
- Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time period that you have to file your lawsuit. If you fail to file your lawsuit within this deadline, the judge would most likely dismiss your case.
- Negligence. In order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries, you must prove the negligence of the party that caused your accident. To do this, you must prove that the party owed you a duty of care, that this duty was breached, that you suffered injuries because of the breach, and the amount of compensation that you deserve.
- Burden of proof. The burden of proof refers to your obligation to prove the allegations that establish the negligent party’s duty to compensate you. In premises liability cases, you must show that the defendant’s actions more likely than not caused your accident and injuries.
- Damages. Damages are the money that you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit. In premises liability cases, you are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that you were partially at fault in causing your accident. Virginia has a harsh rule that bars you from recovering any compensation if you were at all to blame for your injuries.
Do you or a loved one need to file a claim following a premises liability accident in Virginia? Our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to explain how filing a claim works and your legal options, and to fight for the compensation that you deserve. To discuss your situation and learn more, fill out our convenient online form to schedule your no-cost initial consultation.