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Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
(833) 997-1774

If you sustained injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence, you might require the aid of a personal injury attorney. Most people who have never been involved in a personal injury case before, find the legal jargon confusing. It may, therefore, be useful to familiarize yourself with some of the basic vocabulary. Two of the main terms you need to know pertain to those at the center of any personal injury case: the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit), and the defendant (the person being sued). If you were injured in a negligence-based accident you may be entitled to compensation. Call the experienced Chesapeake personal injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule your free consultation. 

Who is the Plaintiff in a Personal Injury Case?

In the context of a personal injury case, the plaintiff is the aggrieved party; the person who was injured. This could be a car accident victim, someone who tripped and fell at a restaurant, or a person who was bitten by their neighbor’s dog. If you are the party who filed a lawsuit seeking financial compensation for damages, you are the plaintiff.  

Who is the Defendant?

The defendant is the opposing party; the negligent individual or entity that is being sued for damages. The defendant could be a person, a company, or multiples thereof. The defendant is the person or persons who were negligent and whom the plaintiff is claiming is responsible for their injuries.

Some examples of personal injury accidents that are commonly caused by negligence are: 

  • A rear-end accident caused by a driver who was following too closely
  • A slip-and-fall accident caused by an unattended spill the store failed to warn you about  
  • A pedestrian being struck in a crosswalk by a texting driver
  • A dog bite caused by an owner who failed to control their pet  

Why Are These Terms Important?

It’s not so much that it is essential for you to understand legal terminology as it is for you to understand your rights and your role in a personal injury case. For example, as the plaintiff, you may have a growing pile of medical bills from a car accident for which you were not at fault. As such, you are entitled to pursue financial compensation for losses arising from and relating to your accident by filing a lawsuit. This is just one of the many ways that working with an experienced Chesapeake personal injury attorney is crucial to the outcome of your case.

What is My Role as a Plaintiff?

Your role as a plaintiff is to establish the defendant’s negligence. Having accomplished that, you must then show how their negligence caused your injuries and subsequent damages. Even the most seemingly obvious of personal injury cases are seldom straightforward. This is because they ultimately boil down to what you are able to effectively prove. Plaintiffs must supply tangible evidence that supports their claims.

In personal injury cases, strong evidence can include: 

  • Videos and pictures of the accident scene  
  • Medical records from the day of your accident onward, doctor’s notes, prescriptions, specialist referrals, etc.  
  • Witness testimonies from bystanders who witnessed the incident 
  • Expert witnesses, such as medical professionals

Trying to handle a personal injury case by yourself is ill-advised for numerous reasons. In part, the legal process is confusing and complex, especially for those without the appropriate education, background, and training. The process is also fraught with deadlines that are easy to miss. Without strong legal guidance, plaintiffs, who are already stressed and injured, are at risk of making multiple mistakes that could jeopardize their cases.

Understanding the Defense  

In most cases, attorneys for an insurance carrier represent the defendant. Their job is to try and prove that their client was not at fault for the accident. However, due to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence laws,  simply shifting a portion of the blame onto the plaintiff is enough for them to avoid liability and the ensuing payout. Common defenses employed by defense attorneys include pre-existing conditions, liability waivers, assumption of risk, delaying your claim, and claiming that your injuries were not caused by the accident. A strong Chesapeake personal injury attorney can help you counter these and other arguments raised by the defense. 

Why Do Plaintiffs Need an Attorney?

Partnering with a reputable Chesapeake personal injury attorney is paramount to maximizing your damages. An experienced attorney will know the nuances of the law as it pertains to your situation. They will also have the resources needed to fully investigate your accident, collect strong evidence that supports your claim, and speak with witnesses to ensure they are credible and prepare them to give testimony. Your attorney will also handle all communication with opposing counsel and the insurance company, and work diligently to obtain the financial compensation you deserve. 

How Do I Choose the Best Personal Injury Attorney?

All attorneys are not created equal. Similar to professors and doctors, different attorneys have different specialties and different strengths. Just as you would hire a corporate attorney to represent your company in a merger, it is to your benefit to hire an experienced attorney who specializes in the area of personal injury law that relates to your accident.

For example, if you lost a family member in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, working with an attorney who has a strong history of successfully handling wrongful death cases, understands all applicable laws, and is empathetic to your situation will be a great boon to your case.  

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Personal injury cases involve numerous unforeseen obstacles and challenges as they progress. As a plaintiff, understanding your role and how it differs from the defendant’s is essential. If you were injured through no fault of your own, we urge you to optimize your recovery by partnering with an experienced Chesapeake personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. That is exactly what we did for a client when we achieved a $60 million verdict after he was seriously injured by a derailed Norfolk Southern train that crashed into the service station where he worked. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys can help. In most cases, you only have two years from the day of your accident to file a claim so schedule a free consultation by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our quick online contact form as soon as possible. To better serve our clients, we have offices in Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.  

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