Absolute Liability– In cases where a party is liable regardless of any direct actions, it is referred to as absolute or strict liability. One of the most common applications of absolute liability is when a defective product causes an injury or damage to property. Even if negligence was not a factor in the accident, the manufacturer may still be held liable when products fail due to defect.
Acceptance– By legal definition, acceptance is an action that confirms an agreement between two parties. There are several types of acceptance which include conditional acceptance, implied acceptance and express acceptance. An example of conditional acceptance would be if a party agreed to remit payment upon receipt of services while express acceptance would be signing a binding document that states he or she will abide by the terms of the agreement.
Accidental Death– When a fatality is caused by an accidental act, it is considered to be an accidental death. While the party responsible for the death is not subject to criminal charges, civil charges may be brought if the accident was the result of negligence or a defective product.
Action- The initiation of formal litigation is known as action. Once a lawsuit has been filed, it is considered to be a pending action until it comes to some form of resolution; whether through mediation, settlement or a court decision.
Addiction– Whenever a person becomes physically or psychologically dependent on a substance, it is considered an addiction. Addictions can have severe consequences which include impairment that leads to the injury of another person.
Administrative Per Se– Any form of action that does not require a court decision can be considered administrative per se. A very common form of administrative per se is the suspension of a driver’s license by the Department of Motor Vehicles when he or she is found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit or refuses to be tested when suspected of driving while under the influence.
Affidavit– When a person gives a statement of his or her knowledge of events to someone who is qualified to record the statement; the statement itself is called an affidavit. An affidavit is not a deposition because it is not given formally in the presence of lawyers and no cross examinations are performed.
Age of Majority– The age in which a person is recognized by the law as an adult and has the power to make legal decisions. This is also the age in which a person can be held liable for his or her actions.
Aggregate Products Liability Limit– If a company has product liability insurance and is found responsible for the production of a defective product, the aggregate products liability limit is the maximum amount that the insurance company has agreed to pay if the at fault party makes a claim against the insurance policy.
Alcohol Education Program– First time offenders who receive a DUI are often required to undergo a sixteen week program before being able to have a suspension lifted from their drivers licenses. Second time offenders may also be required to go through a rehabilitation program at an inpatient facility as well.
Allegation– A claim made by someone about something that happened concerning a legal matter.
Alternative Dispute Resolution– The use of means other than legal or court action to reach an agreement or settlement between two parties.
Amicus Curiae– A third party which receives no personal benefit from the outcome of litigation but who offers expert opinions and testimony that can influence the court’s decision. The Latin translation reads, “Friend of the court.”
Analgesic– A class of pain medications that include over the counter pain relievers as well as some opiates such as morphine, oxycodone or hydrocodone (Vicodin).
Answer– In legal terminology, an answer is the formal response made by the defense after allegations have been made. An answer either verifies or denies the claims made by the plaintiff and establishes the defense’s case.
Appeal– The process of contesting a ruling made by the court by bringing it to a higher court to be heard.
Appellate– The court or official who reviews and hears the case of someone who has appealed his or her case.
Arbitration– The use of an unbiased party, often referred to as an arbiter, to hear both sides of a dispute and issue a resolution. In order for arbitration to take place, both parties must first agree to abide by whatever resolution the arbiter makes.
Arraignment– A hearing prior to a trial where the defendant is able to hear the charges against him or her and enter his or her response, or plea. The court may also decide whether to remand the defendant or set bail at an arraignment.
Asbestos– A material with flame retardant properties that was used in the construction of ships and buildings and is still used in many manufacturing processes. Inhalation of asbestos fibers over a prolonged period of time has been proven to cause severe health conditions such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Assignment– The transfer of an interest, rights or ownership from one party to another. An example would if a creditor sought the assignment of wages in order to collect on a debt.
Assumption of Risk– The defendant in a personal injury case may claim that the plaintiff was aware of a dangerous situation and chose to knowingly make or continue the action which caused harm to his or her body or property. If the plaintiff did in fact voluntarily proceed with full knowledge that there was a risk of harm, this is called the assumption of risk. A defense must be able to prove that the plaintiff was aware of the risks and was voluntarily exposed to harmful conditions.
At Fault– The party that is held liable for damages is considered to be at fault. In many cases, fault may be shared among multiple parties, who are all partially at fault.
Attorney-Client Privilege– Any written or oral communication made between a client and his or her attorney is protected except under extremely special circumstances. This is referred to as the attorney-client privilege and protects any information shared between a person and his or her attorney.
Bad Faith– A premeditated action made to defraud or harm another person is considered to be made in bad faith. In the case of negligence it can be determined that the responsible party did not intend to cause harm to the victim, but actions in bad faith are those that are determined to be intentionally malicious.
Bench Trial– Any trial that is conducted solely in front of a judge without the use or presence of a jury to come to a decision. In a bench trial, the judge hears the case and makes the final ruling.
Beneficiary– The person who is entitled to receive assets or compensation in the event of a death or insurance claim.
Bifurcation– When a trial is separated into two parts. When this occurs, the trial will normally undergo a liability phase where a decision is made regarding the defendant’s responsibility and a penalty phase where a jury determines the amount of compensation to which the plaintiff is entitled.
Blood Alcohol Content– A measurement used to determine to what extent a person is intoxicated. Each state considers drivers to be under the influence if their blood alcohol content exceeds a certain percentage.
Bodily Injury Liability– The financial responsibility incurred when a party is responsible for the injury or death of another person.
Bond– A written agreement concerning the future transfer of money or meeting of obligations, such as appearing in court.
Breach of Warranty– The failure of a manufacturer or vendor to meet the promises made regarding the function and operation of a product sold to a consumer.
Brief– A document that summarizes the key points of a much longer document and is often used to provide an overview of the most important information related to a case.
Burden of Proof– It is the duty of a plaintiff to prove the allegations presented against the defendant in a civil case and the defendant may have the same duty to prove whether an event or action took place if it is an important part of his or her defense. This is referred to as the burden of proof.
Business Liability– The insurance coverage an employer has that covers financial responsibility in the event of personal injury, death, fire or any other form of property damage.
Capacity Defense– When the defense claims that the actions taken by the defendant could not be avoided due to some form of disability or inability to exercise proper judgment.
Caps on Damages– Some laws attempt to protect defendants in lawsuits by establishing a cap on the allowed amount of compensation awarded in certain forms of personal injury lawsuits regardless of any evidence that proves the plaintiff is entitled to more compensation. Several states have declared these caps unconstitutional as they interfere with the ability of the courts or a jury to render a ruling on the awarding of damages.
Case Evaluation– The process of examining the information needed to understand or calculate the value of a personal injury case. Attorneys often rely on experts in relevant fields to help them determine the amount of damages to seek in a case once they have collected the needed information from their clients. Once the details of the case have been evaluated, an attorney can then give an informed opinion of how to proceed with a case.
Case Law– The establishment of a precedent based on cases similar to the one being presented where the court may interpret the law based on previous rulings. This is also referred to as Common Law.
Case of First Impression– A case with unique circumstances that have not been ruled on in any previous case. In the case of first impression, a precedent has not been set for the court to refer to for interpretation of the law and the ruling made would be the establishment of such a precedent. However, in the event that a similar case has been heard in another state, that case may be referred to as case law instead.
Catastrophic Injury– An injury that has lifelong consequences and from which the victim is not likely to recover.
Certiorari– A petition sent to an appellate court to hear a case after a ruling has been made against a defendant with the intention of having the ruling reversed in an appeal due to errors or misinterpretation of laws or statutes which resulted in the decision against the defendant.
Challenge for Cause– The request of an attorney that a juror be dismissed because of evidence that the juror is incapable of remaining unbiased due either to a relationship with the plaintiff or defendant or previous life experiences that may cause the juror to feel strongly in favor of one side.
Chambers– The office of a judge where he or she may meet with attorneys, sign documents or orders and conduct matters related to the office of a judge while a trial is not in session.
Change of Venue– When either the plaintiff or the defendant feels the need to have a case heard in a different jurisdiction due to a concern of bias; a change of venue is requested.
Charge– In criminal law, a charge is an accusation or allegation against the defendant. It is also a term used to describe instructions given to a jury in a criminal or civil case.
Charge to the Jury– Specific instructions given to a jury by a judge.
Charging Lien– A lien that is established as part of an agreement between an attorney and his or her client that entitles the attorney to collect a fee in the event damages are awarded or the case is settled out of court.
Charitable Immunity– A statute prohibiting the beneficiary of a charitable organization from bringing a lawsuit against the charity. Many states have reversed this law in recent history.
Chief Judge– The highest ranking judge in a court that employs more than one judge. Often referred to as a Chief Justice, Presiding Judge or Administrative Judge.
Circumstantial Evidence– Any evidence that is not direct proof of an allegation such as worker suffering an injury while operating a piece of machinery while not in direct view of any witnesses. It can be established that the worker was operating the machinery at the time of the injury but it is inferred that the machinery is what caused the injury without any direct evidence to support the claim. While it is often the assumption that circumstantial evidence cannot be used in court, this assumption is false, especially in instances where there is no other way to prove a case than with evidence that establishes a series of events that infers or corroborates an allegation.
Civil Action– A civil action is a lawsuit brought against another party in civil court with the intent of collecting damages for an injury or death that may have been the result of the defendant. A civil action differs from criminal proceedings and a person can be acquitted of a crime but still be liable for actions that caused harm to another person’s body or property.
Civil Courts– Courts that are for the specific purpose of settling disputes that are not of criminal nature. A civil court does not only hear injury cases but may also settle disputes that arise due to breaches of contracts, disputes over non-payment and other legal matters that are considered under civil law.
Civil Law– A system of laws pertaining to private matters such as contracts and agreements, civil rights, the transfer of property and matters of financial liability. Criminal matters are tried under penal law, which is specific to violations of the law.
Civil Lawsuit– A legal action taken when a plaintiff makes a claim against another party for damages caused by negligent actions or the failure of a product. The lawsuit is defined as the proceeding that takes place between the plaintiff and the defendant once a claim has been made.
Civil Rights– Any rights that are guaranteed to all of the people who reside in a country, locality or community. When the basic rights of an individual are violated and he or she is discriminated against because of race, gender, sexual preference, disability or religion; it may result in a lawsuit being filed due to the violation of the plaintiff’s rights. Common forms of civil rights violations include wage discrimination, racial profiling and hate crimes.
Claimant– Another term used for the plaintiff in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Class-action Lawsuit– Also referred to as a mass tort, a class-action lawsuit is an action brought against a party in which there are numerous plaintiffs. If a product caused harm to multiple people, a class-action lawsuit may be filed on behalf of the group as a whole as opposed to filing many individual lawsuits. A class action may involve a group of plaintiffs as well as a group of defendants.
Clear and Convincing Evidence– Evidence that meets the burden of proof and establishes an allegation to be truth beyond a reasonable doubt.
Clerk of the Court– A court official that is responsible for maintaining the court’s records and managing the scheduling and processing of cases. The clerk of the court reports to the Chief Judge or Justice and also participates in the administrative functions of the court.
Cognitive Functions– The ability of the brain to process information or perform desired actions. Victims who suffer traumatic brain injuries may have impaired cognitive functions that interfere with memory, speech, comprehension and motor skills. Impaired cognitive function can have a long lasting effect on the victim’s quality of life and medical needs.
Collapse– The giving way of materials that causes a structure to fall, causing damage to property and people in the path of the collapse. This terminology is used mostly in litigation involving workers or bystanders affected by the sudden implosion of a building that resulted in injuries or fatalities.
Common Law– Also referred to as case law, common law is a form of civil law used in the United States that relies on decisions made in previous cases to set a precedent for future decisions concerning similar cases. The law regarding a particular matter is interpreted based on the rulings of judges and juries in the past.
Comparative Negligence– A decision made to determine liability in cases where multiple parties share involvement and there is no clear party at fault. Each party is deemed to be partially at fault and the degree to which each party is considered at fault determines which party is entitled to compensation and the amount of damages the party with greater fault is liable for.
Compensable Claim– A claim made that argues the right of a plaintiff to receive compensation for damages caused by another party.
Compensation– Monetary payment that results from a settlement or judgment in a personal injury lawsuit. Also referred to as damages.
Compensatory Damages– The compensation awarded to a plaintiff in the amount of any financial obligations that were the result of an accident or negligent act. Compensatory damages are calculated based on the value of any bills paid, wages lost and property damage incurred and no more. Efforts have been made to place limits on the amount of compensatory damages that can be awarded— specifically for pain and suffering, the value of which is determined by a jury. Several states have deemed caps on compensatory damages unconstitutional as statutes enforcing such caps interfere with the ability of a court or a jury to make a fair ruling.
Compensatory damages are often confused with punitive damages, which are a different form of damages awarded in cases where the jury feels the need to award additional compensation to the victim in order to punish the defendant for an intentional or malicious act.
Complaint– The initiation of a civil lawsuit is referred to as the complaint as it contains the basis on which the plaintiff is seeking damages from the defendant as well as the causes of action and facts of the case. A cause of action is an alleged act committed by the defendant that caused the plaintiff to initiate litigation— such as negligence or malpractice.
Comprehensive General Liability– A form of insurance that provides a broad range of coverage for damages caused due to issues such as product liability, contractual liability and premises liability. In recent years, this form of coverage has been renamed as commercial general liability, which has the same implications.
Comprehensive Personal Liability– Insurance coverage for liabilities incurred privately as part of most homeowner’s insurance policies. Comprehensive personal liability coverage protects homeowners from most forms of accidents or injuries that occur on their property.
Conflict of Interest– If a court official, attorney or other person involved in a legal proceeding has conflicting duties or obligations that make it impossible to perform his or her duty then it is considered to be a conflict of interest. An example would be a judge presiding over a lawsuit where he had a personal or professional relationship with either the plaintiff or defendant.
Consideration– An essential element in the establishment of a contract, consideration is something offered by either one or both parties that initiates the contract. A promise to remit payment, for example, in exchange for a specific service or product deems the promise of payment as consideration for one side of the contract and the service or product consideration for the other side.
Contempt of Court– Actions that disrupt legal proceedings and challenge the authority of the court or presiding judge. Failure to comply with orders given by a judge, the falsifying of or tampering with documents, interrupting a proceeding or publicly disrupting a trial by disrespecting a court official are all examples of actions which can result in a person being held in contempt of court.
Contingent Fee Agreement– Also known as a contingency agreement, a contingent fee agreement is an agreement between a personal injury lawyer and his or her client that guarantees the lawyer payment on the condition that he or she is able to successfully secure compensation on behalf of the client. Contingent fee agreements have allowed people who are unable to afford an attorney to be able to be represented by reputable attorneys by eliminating the need for an upfront payment.
Contingent Liability– More commonly referred to as vicarious liability or imputed negligence. The concept of contingent liability is that a person can be held responsible for the actions of another. Applications of contingent liability can include a parent being held responsible for a child or an employer being held responsible for an employee. Even though the person held responsible did not perform the negligent act, he or she is declared at fault because of his or her relationship with the at fault person or party.
Contributory Negligence– The ruling that if a person contributed to his or her own injuries in an accident, he or she may not be able to receive compensation from another party even if that party held greater responsibility. This rule is a part of common law and in recent years it has been replaced with the rule of comparative negligence, which establishes that both parties can share responsibility and the amount of compensation awarded can be influenced by the degree to which each party is found at fault.
Counsel– Another term for an attorney or lawyer, who provides legal counsel and advice to a client and represents his or her interests.
Counterclaim– Also referred to as a countersuit, a counterclaim is made when the defendant in a lawsuit believes that the plaintiff is liable for damages against the defendant.
Countersuit– Another term used for a counterclaim, in which a defendant alleges that the plaintiff is at fault or liable for an accident and therefore responsible for damages.
Criminal Action– The trying of a person for a criminal offense in a court of law. Criminal action includes the charging of the defendant, hearing of a plea and commencement of a trial to determine the defendant’s innocence or guilt.
Cross Examination– The process of questioning someone who is called to testify in front of the court by the attorney representing the party opposing the one which called the witness. A cross examination may be used to question the validity or truthfulness of statements made by the witness, to obtain additional information or to accomplish an objective that weakens the opposition’s case.
Damages– The compensation that is awarded to an injured person or the family of someone killed in an accident to be paid by the defendant. There are two types of damages awarded in personal injury cases. Compensatory damages are awarded in the value of the monetary costs incurred because of an act of negligence while punitive damages are additional damages awarded as punishment for acts that the jury deems to be malicious or in bad faith.
Decision– The final ruling in a case that determines fault and damages in civil court.
Decree– The presentation of a decision during the conclusion of a trial that states the legal ramifications of the trial, the court’s decision and how it is to be carried out.
Default Judgment– A decision made against a defendant that failed to appear before the court or enter a plea or response to the charges or allegations made against him or her.
Defective Product– A product that fails to perform its advertised function or causes bodily harm despite proper and safe use. Manufacturers of defective products may be held liable for injuries or deaths that result from a defective part or design. The assertion in cases involving defective products is that the use of alternative materials or a different design could have prevented the injury.
Defendant– The person against who action is brought. In a criminal court, the defendant is the person accused of a crime while in civil court, the defendant is the person or party that is alleged to be responsible for an injury, damage to property or other damages.
Deposition– A formal proceeding where a person is required to answer questions given by an attorney in the presence of a court recorder. The testimony given is recorded and may be used later during the trial but the purpose of the deposition is typically to gather information during the process of discovery in order to build a case or defense.
Design Defect– The flaw in the overall design of a product that may cause it to fail or cause an injury or damage to property. If it is determined that a manufacturer was aware of a design defect and failed to take measures to correct flaws that would otherwise jeopardize the safety of those using it, the manufacturer can be held liable.
Directed Verdict– A verdict that the judge orders the jury to deliver due to the failure of one side to fulfill its burden of proof. In the case of a directed verdict, the power to give a ruling is taken away from the jury, which must deliver whatever verdict the judge instructs it to.
Direct Evidence– Evidence that provides proof of an event or action, as opposed to circumstantial evidence which only implies that the action took place. An example of direct evidence would be if a witness actually saw something happen where the evidence would be circumstantial if he or she heard something take place but did not actually see it.
Direct Examination– The questioning of a witness by the counsel who called the witness to testify. A direct examination allows the side that has called the witness to establish facts related to the case before allowing the opposing side to cross examine the witness.
Disability– The loss of any function that allows an individual to lead a normal life such as blindness, paralysis, loss of cognitive function or any other form of impairment. If an act of negligence resulted in a person’s disability the liable party may be responsible for compensation in the amount of a lifetime of care.
Disbursement– The act of paying compensation that is owed either due to an out of court settlement or a decision made by a court.
Discovery– The process by which attorneys gather all of the information required to establish a case or a defense. During this process, interrogatories are exchanged, depositions are recorded and each side investigates the details of the case to determine whether to take the case to trial or make attempts to resolve the matter out of court.
Discrimination– The unfair treatment of an individual or group of people due to race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, age or any other reason that is not related to a person’s skills, abilities or legal rights.
Disfigurement– The permanent alteration of a person’s appearance due to an injury, condition or procedure in a harmful manner.
Dismemberment– The loss of a limb as the result of an injury.
Dismissal– A decision to throw out a case because there is a lack of evidence or the rights of the defendant were violated.
Dismissal with Prejudice– The dismissal of a case with the stipulation that the plaintiff may never bring another lawsuit for the same cause of action.
Dismissal without Prejudice– The dismissal of a case without the stipulation that the plaintiff may never bring another lawsuit for the same cause of action. This allows the plaintiff to refile a claim if he or she wishes to do so after building a more solid case.
Distracted Driver– A driver who is distracted by another person or activity, affecting his or her ability to operate a vehicle.
Dram Shop Laws– Laws that hold any establishment which serves alcohol responsible for the actions of its customers if they are noticeably intoxicated at the time they are served. These laws are intended to combat drunk driving by encouraging bars and restaurants to cut their customers off if they have consumed too much alcohol.
Drunk Driving– Driving while over the legal blood alcohol level. Drunk driving is a hazard both to the driver and others on the road due to impaired judgment and motor function that are the result of intoxication.
Due Diligence– Reasonable actions or precautions taken to address safety concerns or to avoid an accident or injury. If a person is found to have not acted with due diligence, he or she is considered to be negligent.
DUI– The punishment for driving under the influence of alcohol which may include fines, a suspension of the driver’s license and the attendance of a mandatory alcohol education program.
Duty to Warn– The requirement of a party to warn others in the event that a known hazard or risk to their health is present or could result from a procedure or the use of a product. Failure to warn makes the party liable for any resulting injuries.
Evidence– Anything that proves or disproves an allegation made either by the plaintiff or defendant.
Excessive Force– The use of force beyond that of which is required to subdue a suspect, which is often the basis of a police brutality claim.
Excited Delirium– A condition that occurs when a person has been arrested that causes agitation while the person is in custody. Excited delirium is often attributed to drug abuse and the agitation it causes may result in death. Reports have arisen of excited delirium being used as the cause of death during autopsies involving people who have died after the use of a TASER against them.
Exhibit– A photograph, document or item that is introduced as evidence before the court.
Finding– The final result or decision made during a legal proceeding.
General Damages– Damages awarded for considerations that cannot have a value assigned to them such as pain and suffering.
Gross Negligence– An extreme form of negligence in which the at fault party has a willful disregard for the need to exercise due diligence.
Hate Crime– Any crime motivated by the victim’s race, gender, religion, nationality, age, sexual preference or disability.
Hazardous Exposure– Contact with materials that present a danger either to immediate or long term exposure. Materials include airborne agents and chemicals, toxic metals, asbestos or natural gas. Multiple parties may be found liable for hazardous exposure if they failed to take appropriate measures warn people of the hazard or provide appropriate protection.
Hit and Run– An accident involving a driver who leaves the scene after a collision.
Insurance Adjuster– An agent working for or with an insurance company whose responsibility is to settle insurance claims. Insurance adjusters represent the interests of the insurance companies that employ them first and foremost and may not necessarily have the best interest of the injured party in mind.
Interrogatory– A formal question delivered to an opposing attorney as part of the discovery process. Interrogatories allow each attorney to collect information relevant to their case and to communicate their demands for settlement.
Judgment– Another term for the final decision rendered by a court at the conclusion of a trial.
Liability– The legal responsibility of a person or a company. If a party is held liable, it is required to provide compensation to any person harmed due to a negligent or reckless action or the failure to prevent an injury or accident.
Loss of Consortium– When one’s spouse is unable to engage in normal sexual relations due to an injury, causing a deprivation of intimacy.
Manslaughter– The taking of another person’s life without prior intent to do so, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The lack of premeditation is what separates manslaughter from murder.
Mediation– A meeting between the defendant and plaintiff in the presence of an unbiased mediator in an attempt to come to an agreement before taking a lawsuit to trial.
Medical Malpractice– The deviation of a physician from the standard of care which results in the injury or death of the patient he or she is treating. It is very difficult to prove medical malpractice because it first must be established that the doctor acted irrationally and unlike how a reasonable physician would act under the same circumstances.
Medical Malpractice Caps– Statutes that attempt to place a limit on the damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. These laws have come under scrutiny and several states have ruled caps on damages as part of tort reform to be unconstitutional.
Negligence– The failure of a party to act with due diligence in order to prevent harm from coming to another person. When a person is injured due to the action or inaction of another person and it is determined that the person failed to act reasonably to prevent the injury, the person is deemed negligent and may be held liable.
Out of Court Settlement– A settlement made between the plaintiff and defendant during litigation that resolves the matter without the need for a trial.
Pain and Suffering– The physical and mental stress that occurs due to an injury and throughout the recovery process. Those who have suffered more severe or catastrophic injuries are normally awarded more compensation for pain and suffering due to a long term change of the victim’s quality of life.
Paralegal– A person who works for an attorney or law firm performing routine tasks on the behalf of an attorney that require knowledge of the law to some degree.
Personal Injury Lawyer– An attorney who specializes in civil lawsuits involving those who have suffered an injury or some form of harm because of the act or inaction of another party.
Physician-Patient Privilege– The confidentiality of any information that is held between a doctor and his or her patient. For this reason, a physician is unable to testify against a patient in court or to provide any privileged information. To do so would be a violation of the law. The physician may testify on behalf of his or her patient and share information that the patient consents to in order to establish a case, however.
Plaintiff– The person or party who has brought action against another. In criminal cases, the plaintiff is the prosecution while the plaintiff is the one making a claim for damages in civil court.
Police Brutality– The use of excessive or unnecessary force by law enforcement officials when subduing a criminal or suspect.
Premise Liability– The legal responsibility of a home or landowner should another person be injured on his or her property.
Product Liability– The legal responsibility of a manufacturer in the event that a defective product is the cause of an accident, injury or death.
Property Damage– Damage to a person’s property that has occurred due to an accident or act of negligence.
Punitive Damages– Damages that are awarded by a jury when it is determined that the defendant committed an act worthy of punishment either due to bad faith or extreme recklessness. These damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages, which pay for the actual costs incurred for medical treatment and recovery.
Settlement– An agreement made out of court between the plaintiff and defendant for the defendant to provide compensation to the plaintiff for damages caused by the defendant.
Slip and Fall– A type of injury that occurs when the victim slips either due to a slippery surface or an object placed in his or her path.
Sovereign Immunity– The immunity of the government or a government agency from having a lawsuit filed against it.
Special Damages– Damages awarded to recover costs not directly related to an injury such as lost wages, damage to property and incidental expenses that resulted from necessary accommodations.
Statute of Limitations– A legal limit placed on the amount of time that is allowed to pass after a person has suffered an injury or damages before he or she is able to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is intended to protect people and corporations from frivolous or outdated lawsuits.
Subpoena– A court order summoning a person to appear before court to testify as a witness.
TASER– A device commonly used by law enforcement to subdue suspects who resist arrest. Controversy over excessive TASER use as well as injuries that result has caused its use as a non-lethal deterrent to be questioned.
Tort– A wrong on which a lawsuit is based such as negligence, recklessness or medical malpractice. The tort itself is the act which wronged the plaintiff and tort law is the system of laws that apply to civil actions.
Tort reform– Laws or statutes that are intended to limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in personal injury lawsuits in an effort to defend corporations from frivolous lawsuits. Controversy has arisen due to attempts at tort reform mainly due to the question of whether it is constitutional to interfere with the ability of a jury to make a ruling on damages.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)– An injury to the brain that may have long lasting effects. Many traumatic brain injuries do not present immediate symptoms, which is why it is important for those who have suffered an injury to the head not to accept any early settlement offer from an insurance company before the existence of a TBI is ruled out.
Vaccine Court– Otherwise known as the Office of the Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which is responsible for hearing claims against the manufacturers of vaccines for any injuries caused by the use of a vaccine. The majority of claims against vaccine manufacturers must be heard in this court as opposed to in a federal civil court.
Waiver– The willful forfeiture of one’s rights.
Workers’ Compensation (Workers’ Comp)– Compensation guaranteed to all workers in the event of an injury on the job, regardless of fault. In the event that the injury was the result of negligence, the injured person may have the right to seek compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits if the benefits provided are not sufficient to cover all of the victim’s medical expenses and lost wages.
Wrongful Death– A fatality that results from an act of negligence or recklessness whether willful or accidental. The family of the victim has the right to seek compensation from the party responsible for his or her death.