Throughout the course of your lawsuit or legal claim, you may see or hear several words that are not commonly used outside of the legal field.
Below we’ve provided a list of common terms used in the legal profession that may be useful for you to know.
- Plaintiff – the injured person bringing forward a lawsuit or legal claim against a Defendant(s). The Plaintiff may be a living person, a person on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person, a person on behalf of a deceased person, or a group of persons.
- Defendant – the person or entity(ies) accused by the Plaintiff in a lawsuit or legal claim; also called Defense.
- Statute of Limitations (SOL) – the timeframe within which a Plaintiff may bring forward a lawsuit or legal claim against a Defendant. Statutes of Limitations vary by state and injury type. Additionally, exceptions or exemptions to SOLs may be made in certain circumstances.
- Complaint – a legal document filed in court by the Plaintiff outlining the reasons for the lawsuit and the accusations against the Defendant. The complaint is the document that initiates a lawsuit.
- (Medical) Lien – a repayment demand issued by an insurance provider. Insurance providers are permitted to recoup some of the expenses paid for on a Plaintiff’s behalf when the Plaintiff was being treated for an injury. Liens can be asserted by both private and public (Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, etc.) insurers.
- Affidavit – a written statement made under oath. Affidavits are usually used to verify or substantiate facts or information that is relevant to the lawsuit or legal claim.
- Discovery – a phase of a lawsuit during which Plaintiffs and Defendants exchange relevant information and facts about a lawsuit for each side to build up their legal case.
- Deposition – a verbal statement made under oath. Depositions usually take place during the discovery phase of a lawsuit and are usually made up of a series of questions answered by the deponent.
- Deponent – the individual being deposed. The deponent may be a named party to a lawsuit, an expert, or a witness.
- Settlement – a phase of a lawsuit during which a settlement award has been determined and the requisite paperwork to receive and issue a settlement award takes place.
- Damages – the harm or loss sustained by a Plaintiff that may be recoverable in a lawsuit or legal claim.
- Interrogatory – interrogatories are part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit and are a series of questions answered by the parties. A Plaintiff issues interrogatories to a Defendant to answer and vice versa. Oftentimes, interrogatories are accompanied by an affidavit swearing that the answers provided to the interrogatories are true and correct.
- Liability – the state or determination of who is at fault and to what degree.
- Expert (witness) – an individual who has specialized knowledge in an area of the lawsuit. Both Plaintiff and Defendant will use experts to defend or challenge the case facts presented by the other side.
- Mediation – a meeting of the parties with a neutral third party to resolve the issue involved in the legal claim or lawsuit. Sometimes mediation is part of a legal claim before filing a lawsuit and other times a mediation may be required as part of a lawsuit. If the parties agree to mutually acceptable terms during mediation, the issue may be resolved and the settlement phase will begin.
We look forward to working with you and are grateful you have trusted us with your legal needs. If ever you come across a word or phrase related to your claim or lawsuit that you are unfamiliar with or have questions about, please reach out to your team via phone or email.