General Legal Terminology

Attorney: An individual licensed to practice law.

Claim: Asserting a right in federal or state court that is the result of certain occurrences or facts which give rise to an action enforceable at law.

Contingency Fees: Payment based upon or dependent upon a party’s successful resolution of the matter. These fees are generally based upon a certain percentage of the gross recovery

Defendant: A person, company or entity against whom someone brings a lawsuit.

Discovery: The process by which parties learn or uncover information regarding a lawsuit through written questions, “interrogatories” and oral depositions before trial.

Liability: The finding of a parties fault.

Litigation: A lawsuit or the process by which a lawsuit is carried out, generally in a court of law.

Medical Malpractice: A physician’s deviation from the applicable standard of care which a similar physician would exercise under the same circumstances.

Negligence: A deviation from the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same circumstances.

Personal Injury: When a person is wrongfully injured by the negligent or intentional conduct of a wrongdoer.

Plaintiff: The person or family, estate or guardian of a person injured who brings a lawsuit against a defendant.

Premises Liability: Liability of landowners or those who are responsible for maintaining the property for activities or conditions occurring on the land.

Product Liability: Liability of a manufacturer or seller of a defective product for any injuries or damages suffered as a result of the defective product.

Settlement: Prior to a verdict at trial, all parties agree to “settle” the lawsuit in favor of accepting an agreement made outside of court, usually in the form of money.

Tort Law: An area of law that provides a remedy to all parties who are injured as a result of a civil wrong.

Verdict: Latin for a true declaration. The formal decision or finding of a jury or a judge. A verdict, if in favor of the plaintiff, also includes the amount to which the plaintiff is entitled.

Wrongful Death: When a person’s death is caused by the negligent or intentional act of a wrongdoer.