Claimant/Plaintiff: you, the person making the claim and seeking money for damages, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and related financial losses.

Damages: there are three broad types:

General damages: your pain and suffering, mental and physical, and your general disability.

Special damages: out-of-pocket losses, lost earnings and treatment bills.

Punitive damages: extra money juries in some states can add to the above damages to punish especially bad conduct.

Defendant: the person or entity you are making the claim against.

Defenses: an insurance company representative often raises some defenses to a claim. These may potentially reduce the value of the case.

Loss of Services: in many states a person other than the actually injured person can bring a derivative suit--for example, the uninjured spouse can seek damages for loss of the injured spouse's services.

Negligence: the lack of due care or failure to act reasonably on the part of the person or corporation.

Notice of Claim: Many governmental bodies (municipalities, public corporations) need to have notice of a claim long before suit must be brought. This is generally a very short period of time, which varies according to state law and the particular governmental body. Don't let the time elapse!

Proximate or Legal Cause: the need for a substantial link between the incident and the injuries that you suffered.

Statute of Limitations: the period of time within which you must sue, or otherwise you will be barred from suit. No two states have the same rules and often it depends upon the legal theory of your suit. Sometimes the issue is so complex that a court must resolve it. In Kentucky there is a one year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

Tort: a civil (not criminal) wrong, e.g., auto or motorcycle accidents caused by the other party.

Wrongful Death: If a person dies due to the fault of another, a claim may be brought to collect damages. These damages generally include both the pain and suffering the person had before death, the financial loss of beneficiaries and, in some states, for the suffering of the bereaved. The law is very complex as to who may bring the claim and the people to whom the money goes.