Personal Injury Lawyer, Personal Injury Attorney in Santa Clarita California, Glossary
The following terms are some words commonly used by personal injury attorneys in personal injury actions. This glossary may be useful to those who search for information about personal injury claims.
The information provided here is for information purposes only. If you feel you have a personal injury case, please contact us for a FREE case evaluation.
Action: A civil judicial proceeding, as opposed to criminal proceedings, where a person prosecutes another party (person or entity) for wrongdoing or for protection against impending wrongdoing. In a personal injury setting, this refers to the lawsuit brought by a Plaintiff (or Plaintiffs) against a Defendant (or Defendants) for injuries.
Affidavit: A written statement where someone swears under penalty of perjury (i.e. under oath) in front of another who is legally authorized to accept the signature, such as a judge or notary public. This may also be referred to as a Declaration.
Arbitration: A proceeding where a neutral third party, not affiliated with the case, reviews evidence, hears arguments and makes a ruling, called an “award.”
Bench Trial (aka Court Trial): Trial where the judge decides the case, without a jury.
Complaint: In a civil case, the first pleading filed by the Plaintiff (or Plaintiffs) against the Defendant (or Defendants) that sets forth facts related to the lawsuit and the remedy sought for by Plaintiff (or Plaintiffs).
Damages: Money that a person or entity must pay another (typically the injured party or parties) to cover the cost of a wrong or injury.
Date of Loss: Refers to the date when the injury causing incident occurs. In a personal injury case, this date refers to the date of the car accident, the date of the slip and fall, the date when the dog attacked the victim, etc.
Defendant: The person or entity who is sued in a personal injury lawsuit.
Demurrer: A motion filed by the Defendant asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit. In filing his/her/its demurrer, the Defendant argues that the facts presented by a Plaintiff in his/her/its Complaint, even if true, are not enough to establish or prove that Defendant is legally responsible for Plaintiff’s damages.
Deposition: A pre-trial procedure where oral testimony is given under oath in front of a court reporter. Depositions take place outside of court and not in presence of a judge or jury. Parties use depositions to get a party’s or a witness’ testimony on record.
Dismissal with Prejudice: This occurs when the court dismisses a lawsuit without allowing the parties to the lawsuit the opportunity to file another lawsuits stemming from the same claim.
Dismissal without Prejudice: This occurs when the court dismisses a lawsuit, but gives the parties to the lawsuit the opportunity to file another lawsuit stemming from the same claim, as long as the action is filed within the Statute of Limitations.
Garnishment: A process ordered by the Court that allows part of a person’s wages and/or assets to be withheld for payment of a debt. Wage garnishment is generally involuntary. In a personal injury action, a wage garnishment is used against a Defendant to collect a judgment.
Interrogatories: Part of pretrial discovery in civil lawsuits, these are written questions prepared and served by one side in a lawsuit on the opposing side. The party that prepares and serves the interrogatories is called the “propounding party” and the party that receives the interrogatories is called the “responding party”. The responding party must answer the interrogatories in writing under oath and serve the answers upon the propounding party.
Plaintiff: A person that brings a legal action or sues in a personal injury case. The Plaintiff is named as such on the record.
Requests for Produce Documents: Part of pretrial discovery in civil lawsuits, these are requests prepared and served by one side in a lawsuit on the opposing side wherein the party that prepares the requests (called the “propounding party”) asks the party that receives the requests (called the “responding party”) to produce certain documents. The responding party must answer the request for produce documents in writing under oath and serve the answers, along with the requested documents, upon the propounding party.
Request for Admissions: Part of the pretrial personal injury cases, this is a discovery tool that is used by both defendants and plaintiffs. In this discovery tool, the propounding party requests the responding party to admit to certain facts in the case (facts usually related to liability, causation or damages), or to admit to the genuineness of documents (such as a contract).
Statute of Limitations: The time one has to commence legal proceedings, such as filing a lawsuit or requesting arbitration, against a person or entity in hopes of recovering compensation for loss or injury. In a personal injury action, if the injured party (i.e. Plaintiff) does not commence legal proceedings in time and the statute of limitations passes, then he or she may be barred from bringing a claim or commencing legal proceedings against the Defendant. Statute of limitations varies from state to state and from the cause of action to cause of action. An injured party should contact an attorney regarding this issue.
Summary Judgment: A pretrial motion brought by one of the parties, typically the Defendant, in which the party asks the court to dismiss the case, as a matter of law, based on the evidence presented before the court.