If you’ve ever read through a contract or examined the fine print of a warranty, you know the letter of the law can be dense and confusing stuff. It becomes even more complicated once you become involved in actual legal proceedings. In light of this, we’ve put together our “Legalese, Translated” blog post series. Each installment will explain a collection of legal terms in plain English, from the mainstream lawyer-speak you might hear on your favorite crime drama to more specialized language reserved for certain types of cases. While any legal document or proceeding should be thoroughly examined, understood, and explained to you by your attorney of choice, we hope this resource gives you some context and clarity both in and out of the courtroom.
This week, we’re looking at some legal terminology that you might encounter when dealing with cases of personal injury and wrongful death.
Answer: a written statement filed in response to a lawsuit by the defendant. In the answer, the defendant responds to each allegation individually by denying it, denying it in part, admitting it, or admitting it in part.
Arbitration: a “mini-trial” held in an attempt to resolve a case before it goes to a full scale court trial. Arbitration may be conducted by a retired judge, a panel of respected lawyers, or an organization that provides arbitration services (like the American Arbitration Association).
Aerotoxic syndrome: a term coined in 1999 that describes both acute and chronic health problems caused by exposure to pressurized air on a commercial jet that has been contaminated by oil fumes.
Brief: a legal document that lays out the arguments for various motions and petitions a given lawsuit, with the goal of helping convince the court rule in favor of the party that wrote the brief.
Bad faith insurance claim: a case in which an insurance company willfully and knowingly deceives a claimant and/or treats them unfairly. In some places, the court may award the victim up to triple the actual damages as a penalty.
Claim: a demand for money, property, or enforcement of a right provided by law.
Class action: a lawsuit filed by one or more individuals on the behalf of a larger group of people.
Damages: the amount of money a plaintiff might be awarded if the court rules in their favor in a lawsuit.
Dram shop rule: (also known as the liquor liability rule) a statute upheld in 38 states that holds a business or person who serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual liable for the future, potentially destructive actions of that individual.
Lawsuit: a legal action filed by one person against another (as opposed to the state taking legal action against an individual).
Further Reading: 12 Cases Where You Might Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
Malpractice: an act or continuous pattern of conduct by an individual within the capacity of their job that does not meet the standards of professional conduct for that job and results in harm to their patient or client.
Negligence: the failure to exercise reasonable or prudent care toward others or taking action that a reasonable person would not.
Party: the participant(s) in a lawsuit or other legal proceedings. This includes:
- Plaintiff: the person or entity filing a suit or bringing charges against another. In criminal proceedings, the plaintiff is typically the State and is represented by a prosecutor.
- Defendant: the person or entity on the receiving end of a case. This is the person being sued in a civil case or the person being charged with a crime in a criminal case.
- Petitioner: the plaintiff in certain types of civil cases
- Respondent: the defendant in certain types of civil cases
“Party” can also be used to refer to people or entities involved in an agreement (“party to the contract”), transaction (“both parties were satisfied with the outcome”), or accident (“neither party was at fault”).
Personal injury: any harm – physical, reputational, financial, or otherwise – done to a person by the acts or omissions of another.
Restitution: the act of correcting a situation by returning property to the rightful owner or compensating someone for the monetary value of a loss.
Settlement: the resolution of a legal dispute or lawsuit before the court makes a final ruling. This is usually achieved through some kind of negotiation.
Slip-and-fall case: case based on a person slipping, tripping, or otherwise falling and suffering an injury on the premises of another.
Tort law: any legal proceedings that concern an act or lack of action that injures and/or harms another; also known as personal injury law.
Workers’ compensation: (also known as “workers’ comp”) a type of insurance that provides medical benefits and wage replacement for employees who are injured on the job. These benefits are provided in return for the employee relinquishing their right to sue their employer for negligence.
Wrongful death: loss of life caused by another person’s negligence or misconduct.
KJC Law Firm has over 125 years of combined experience litigating major personal injury cases. We have the resources to investigate your claim, hire the necessary experts, and get you the compensation you deserve. We understand the effects an injury or accident can have on you and your family, and we know the methods the insurance companies will try to use to blame you, even when it isn’t your fault. We’re here to help – schedule a free consultation with our team to start your journey to restitution.