Personal Injury Glossary

doctor bandaging person's foot

Personal Injury Glossary

What to Know for a Successful Personal Injury Claim

You were hurt in an accident. Now you’re entering the world of personal injury claims.

You know a personal injury settlement can change your life for the better. But this is unfamiliar territory for you.

The lawyers at Schiro & Themer work with this system all the time.

We want to take some of the mystery out of it. So on this page we’ve gathered definitions of the most common personal injury terms you’ll hear.

They fall into three groups:

  1. Determining fault
  2. Securing compensation
  3. Paying for a lawyer

If you live in Springfield-Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Danville or anywhere across Central Illinois, our mission is to arm you with knowledge, increase your confidence and deliver success for your personal injury claim.

We provide Real Help for Real People.

Contact Us Today.

Personal Injury Glossary: Who Was at Fault

Two major terms you’ll hear in your personal injury case—which have to do with assigning responsibility for your injuries and losses—are “comparative fault” and “negligence.”

Comparative Fault:

This is a comparison of how much responsibility belongs to different people involved in a damaging accident or event. The amount of responsibility you have, compared with the amount the other driver had, affects how much compensation you get. These levels of negligence, for you and the opposing side, can fall into the categories of “slight,” “ordinary” and “gross.”


Negligence is what a reckless driver, or the owner of a dangerous property, shows before someone gets hurt. It means doing something risky that a reasonable person in the same situation wouldn’t do. Or it’s the failure to take reasonable action to prevent harm. In a personal injury case, your lawyer will seek to show that the person or people who hurt you were negligent.

The lawyers at Schiro & Themer don’t charge anything to provide an assessment of your case.

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Personal Injury Glossary: How You Get Paid

When you’re trying to secure payment to recover from your injuries after a car, truck, motorcycle or other kind of accident, you’ll hear terms like “damages,” “lien” and “settlement.”


Damages are the parts of your claim for which you can recover money for your losses and injuries. Damages come in several forms:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Past and future loss of normal life
  • Disfigurement


Believe it or not, once you win payment for a personal injury, other groups might be waiting to take a piece of the money. If so, they file what’s called a lien.

You could have unpaid medical bills, health insurance claims that the insurance company wants reimbursement for, payments you received that a workers’ compensation insurer now wants back and more. Each of those are lien claims.

Many people don’t realize that part of your attorney’s job in a personal injury case is analyzing lien claims and minimizing how much you have to pay back out of your settlement.

Attorneys have tools, not widely known or available to non-lawyers, for making sure you actually receive as much of the money from your personal injury case as possible.


A settlement is an agreement on how much you’ll receive for your injuries. The settlement is between you and the person at fault or their insurance company.

Most cases end in settlements before they reach a personal injury trial in a courtroom.

Personal Injury Glossary: Paying for a Lawyer

When you’ve been in accident, bills are piling up—and maybe you can’t work—affording a lawyer sounds impossible. Really, there’s only one personal injury term you need to know to answer this problem: “contingency fee.”

Contingency Fee:

A contingency fee is an arrangement with your lawyer under which you don’t pay them a fee for their work until they win you a personal injury settlement or verdict.

Contingency fees make working with a lawyer low-risk for you. You’ll only pay a fee out of your personal injury compensation—and only after you win that compensation.

This is how we work at Schiro & Themer.

You pay no attorney fee until you win.

We’re dedicated to helping our Central Illinois neighbors, like you, reclaim your life after a trauma.

Call Us Today.

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