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Glossary Central - Legal glossary
Category: Legal
Date & country: 31/05/2011, US
Words: 227


VERDICT
The decision rendered by a jury or judge at the end of a trial.

VENUE
Broadly, the geographical area where a court has authority to hear a case because it has personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. The venue is usually the same area where the incident leading to the trial occurred. A change of venue may occur if negative publicity or other factor would make it difficult to find unbiased jurors.

USER
In products liability law, a person who uses goods.

UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
In Pennsylvania, optional insurance that provides protection to purchaser of said coverage and relatives living in his household who suffer injury caused by the negligence of another driver who does not have insurance to pay for losses and damages. Uninsured motorist coverage can be stacked.

TPPM
See Tangible Personal Property Memorandum.

TRUSTEE
A person (or institution) to whom legal title to property is entrusted to use for another's benefit.

TRUST
A legal instrument allowing one party to control property for the benefit of another. A trust is established by one person (the grantor or settlor) for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). A third person (the trustee) or the grantor manages the trust.

TRIAL
The proceedings in a court where the issues between the parties are heard, and decision upon the issues is made. This examination of facts and law is presided over by a judge with authority to hear and make decisions in the matter.

TORTFEASOR
A person who owes to another the same duty and whose negligence results in injury to such other person.

TORT
A wrong; a private or civil wrong or injury resulting from a breach of a legal duty that exists by virtue of society's expectations regarding interpersonal conduct, rather than by contract or other private relationship.

SUBORNATION OF PERJURY
Procuring someone to make a false statement under oath.

TESTIMONY
Evidence delivered by a witness at trial either orally at trial or in the written form of an affidavit or deposition.

TESTATOR
Person who makes a will (female: testatrix).

TESTAMENTARY TRUST
A trust set up by a will.

SUBPOENA
Command to appear at a certain place and time to give testimony on a matter.

SURVIVAL ACTION
A survival action is brought by the administrator of a deceased person's estate in order to recover loss to the estate resulting from a tort. A survival action continues in the decedent's personal representative a right of action which accrued to the decedent at common law because of a tort. A survival action, unlike a wrongful death action, is not a new cause of action. Where death is caused by...

SURETY BOND
A bond purchased at the expense of the estate to insure the executor's proper performance. Often called a fidelity bond.

SUMMONS
Formal document beginning a civil action or special proceeding which is a means to gain jurisdiction over a party. Also, a document directed to a sheriff or other authorized person ordering him to serve the person named on the summons who must appear at a certain place and time to respond to the action.

SUBROGATION
A process by which a third party is put in the place of a creditor so that the rights and securities of the creditor pass to that third person. For example, in a personal injury matter, an insurance company may exercise its right of subrogation to place a lien on a plaintiff's award or settlement in order to achieve full or partial reimbursement for insurance benefits advanced to the plaintiff.

SURVIVAL STATUTES
Statutory law that provides for a legal action to continue after the death of a person involved in the action.

STATUTE
A formal written enactment of a legislative body, whether federal, state, city or county. An act of the legislature declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something.

SURVIVORSHIP
Another name for joint tenancy.

STIPULATION
An agreement entered into by the divorcing spouses that settles the issues between them and is often entered into the court's final order or judgment and decree.

STRICT LIABILITY
Doctrine that holds defendants liable for harm caused by their actions regardless of their intentions or lack of negligence. Often applied to manufacturers or sellers of defective products in products liability cases.

STROKE
Damage to a part of the brain when its blood supply is suddenly reduced or stopped. This stoppage in blood flow can occur as the result of a blood vessel becoming blocked or bursting inside the brain. The part of the brain deprived of blood dies and can no longer function.

SPONDYLOLISTHESIS
Manifested by an increase in lumbar curvature or by a chronic low back pain with occasional lightening of the hamstring muscles.

SPENDTHRIFT TRUST
A trust set up for the benefit of someone who the grantor believes would be incapable of managing his or her own financial affairs.

SPOUSAL SUPPORT
See alimony.

SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE
See alimony.

SPRINKLING TRUST
A trust that grants the person managing it (the trustee) the discretion to disburse its funds among the beneficiaries in any way he or she deems necessary.

SLIP AND FALL
The term "slip and fall" is used when one person, having taking reasonable care, falls on another person's property due to negligence of care on the part of the property owner or resident. These are also referred to as "trip and fall" or "fall down" claims.

SECURED DEBT
In bankruptcy proceedings, a debt is secured if the debtor gave the creditor a right to repossess the property or goods used as collateral.

SEPARATION
See limited divorce.

SELF-DEFENSE
Claim that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it was necessary to protect a person or property from the threat or action of another.

SEQUESTER
To separate. Sometimes juries are separated from outside influences during their deliberations. For example, this may occur during a highly publicized trial.

SETTLEMENT
When a case is resolved by agreement between the parties without the necessity of a trial or verdict.

SETTLEMENT DEMAND
The "settlement demand" is often the most important document prepared in a personal injury claim. If the case settles before a lawsuit is filed, it is usually as the result of a settlement demand that the attorney has prepared and delivered to the opposing insurance adjustor. And even if the case does not resolve after a settlement demand is prepared, the demand can often set the tone for contin...

RISING ALCOHOL DEFENSE
This defense is based on the idea that alcohol levels change over time, as the body absorbs alcohol, reaches a peak level, and then eliminates alcohol. Breath or blood testing is done after driving; these test results tell us what the alcohol level is at the time of testing, not at the time of driving. The rising alcohol defense is simply that at the time of driving the alcohol level was below the...

REDACTION
The act of going over a document with a fine-toothed comb in order to find any ambiguities or areas that are not to your advantage.

REASONABLE CARE
The standard of care in negligence cases; the duty to act reasonably so as to avoid harming others.

RETAINER
The fee paid to an attorney or other professional for their services, sometimes representing advance payment for anticipated future services.

RESPONDENT
The party that won at trial.

REMEDIES
Relief that the plaintiff receives from the defendant in a lawsuit. Often this will include monetary damages or equitable relief (i.e. injunctions).

REDEMPTION
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a process wherein the debtor obtains legal title to collateral for a debt by paying the creditor the replacement value of the collateral in a lump sum.

QUESTION OF FACT
Issues in a trial or hearing concerning facts and how they occurred, as opposed to questions of law. Fact questions are for the jury to decide, unless the issues are presented in a non-jury or bench trial, in which case the judge would decide fact questions. Questions of law are decided by a judge. Findings of fact are generally non-appealable, while rulings on questions of law are subject to appe...

PSYCHIATRIST
An individual who treats people through counseling to overcome emotional and psychological reactions to an injury or disease. One difference between a psychiatrist and psychologist is that the psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor can prescribe medication.

QUESTION OF LAW
An issue involving the application or interpretation of the law which is within the province of the judge. Compare with question of fact.

PREMARITAL AGREEMENT
An agreement entered into before marriage that sets forth each party's rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate by death or divorce. Also called a prenuptial agreement.

PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT
An agreement entered into before marriage that sets forth each party's rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate by death or divorce. Also called a premarital agreement.

PRIMA FACIE
(Latin, meaning "at first appearance") Self-evident; legally sufficient to establish a fact or a case unless disproved.

PROFESSIONAL NEGLIGENCE
see malpractice.

PRODUCT LIABILITY
The responsibility of a manufacturer or distributor for harm or injury, which results from a defective product. Examples of product liability could be injury to a child from a poorly constructed toy, or a severe physical reaction suffered by someone as a result of taking a particular medication.

PLAINTIFF
The person, people or entity, which files a lawsuit.

PERMANENT ALIMONY
a type of alimony that is paid in regular intervals. Permanent alimony may change or be terminated upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony payments.

PER DIEM
A form of payment for services in which the provider is paid a daily fee for specific services or outcomes, regardless of the cost of provision.

PERMANENT INJUNCTION
A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.

PERSONAL INJURY
Injury to an individual, which can occur in any number of ways (some examples: automobile accident, a slip and fall incident, a dog bite, a boating accident, etc.).

PERSON
Generally, a human being. Legally, a "person" may statutorily include a corporation, partnership, trustee, legal representative, etc.

PARTY
The individuals or entities involved in a lawsuit. (This can be either the Plaintiff or the Defendant.)

PERSONAL PROPERTY
Tangible physical property (such as cars, clothing, furniture, and jewelry) and intangible personal property. This does not include real property such as land or rights in land.

OATH
Written or oral pledge by a person to keep a promise or speak the truth.

ORDINANCE
Commonly, a regulation passed by a municipal legislative body.

NEGLIGENCE
The careless actions of a person, or their failure to act, which places them at fault in causing or contributing to the injury or death of another. When that failure causes another person to suffer an injury or financial loss, that person may be entitled to just compensation through our civil justice system.

NOTICE OF DEFECTIVE CONDITION
Notification to a manufacturer or other entity responsible for putting a product into the stream of commerce that an injury has been sustained because of a defect in its product for which the injured is requesting monetary recovery for damages from the injury.

NONFEASANCE
Failure to perform some act which should have been performed.

NOLO CONTENDERE
A plea in a criminal case, which has a similar legal effect as pleading guilty.

NO FAULT
A system of insurance whereby all persons who are injured in an automobile accident may be compensated for any injuries resulting therefrom, without regard to who was at fault.

NUNCUPATIVE WILL
An oral (unwritten) will.

NEGLIGENCE PER SE
Conduct, either by act or omission, that may be declared and treated as negligence without argument or proof of negligence, usually because the conduct violates a statute. A finding of negligence per se satisfies the plaintiff's burden of proof that the defendant's conduct was negligent. However, the burden remains on the plaintiff to establish that his injuries were proximately caused by the st...

NET WAGE LOSS
Typically, gross income lost, minus liability for taxes and Employment Insurance premiums. For example, a gross income of $60,000 per year, reduced by taxes of $20,000 and E.I. premiums of $1,000, would produce a net income of $39,000. Therefore, in this example, someone not able to work for a year would have suffered a $39,000 net wage loss.

MURDER
The unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill. Murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not. (See also manslaughter.)

MOOT
A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court's refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court's decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court's deci...

MIRANDA WARNING
Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they question him or her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

MMI
See Maximum Medical Improvement.

MISDEMEANOR
Criminal offenses which are less serious than felonies, conviction of which carry with them lesser punishments than a felony offense.

MITTIMUS
The name of an order in writing, issuing from a court and directing the sheriff or other officer to convey a person to a prison, asylum, or reformatory, and directing the jailer or other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person until his or her fate shall be determined by due course of law.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
See malpractice.

MEDIATION
An informal settlement conference at which the parties and their attorneys present their positions to a neutral individual (the mediator). That mediator then speaks to the parties separately, in an effort to bring them to an agreement to settle the matter.

MENTAL ANGUISH
Mental suffering. In some cases, damages may be awarded for mental anguish even though no physical injury is present.

MAGISTRATE
Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a judge.

MENTAL DISABILITY
Mental disabilities are deemed compensable when arising out of actual events of employment -- not unfounded perceptions thereof.

MALFEASANCE
Commission of a wrongful act; evildoing; wrongful conduct. his term is often used when a professional or public official commits an illegal act that interferes with the performance of his or her duties.

MALICIOUS PROSECUTION
An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.

MARITAL PROPERTY
Generally, all property acquired during the marriage.

MANSLAUGHTER
The unlawful killing of another without intent to kill; either voluntary (upon a sudden impulse); or involuntary (during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily expected to result in great bodily harm). See also murder.

MANDAMUS
A writ issued by a court ordering a public official to perform an act.

MALPRACTICE
An abrogation of a duty owed by a health care provider to the patient; the failure to exercise the degree of care used by reasonably careful practitioners of like qualifications in the same or similar circumstances. For a plaintiff to collect damages in a court of law, the plaintiff's attorney must show that the provider owed the patient a duty and that the provider's violation of the standards ...

MAXIMUM MEDICAL IMPROVEMENT
The level of medical recovery reached by an injured person when their physician determines that their condition is unlikely to improve further. This is also known as "MMI."

LIABILITY
The state of being liable--that is, legally responsible for an act or omission.

LIABLE
Legally responsible. For example, a person may be liable for a debt, liable for an accident due to careless behavior, liable for failing do something required by a contract or liable for the commission of a crime. Someone who is found liable for an act or ommission must usually pay damages or, if the act was a criminal one, face punishment.

LIEN
A legal claim against another person's property as security for a debt. A lien does not convey ownership of the property, but gives the lien holder a right to have his or her debt satisfied out of the proceeds of the property if the debt is not otherwise paid.

LEMON LAW
Refers to various state laws protecting consumers against the purchase of vehicles found to be persistently defective.

LEGAL CUSTODY
The right to make important decisions about the raising of your child, on issues such as health care, religious upbringing, education, etc.

LIMITED DIVORCE
The termination of cohabitation, also known as a separation.

LEX LOCI
Latin for the "law of the place." It means local law.

LAW CLERKS
Persons trained in the law who assist judges in researching legal opinions.

LAW
The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom.

LAWSUIT
A legal proceeding filed with the court.

JUDGE
A judge or justice is an appointed or elected official who presides over a court. The powers, functions, and training of judges vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

LAWYER
A person that has been trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation. Also known as a "barrister & solictor" or an attorney.