Terms & Definitions

Legal Dictionary: A
Accepted Claim. A claim in which the insurance company accepts that your injury or illness will be covered by workers compensation.

Acknowledgment. 1. A statement of acceptance of responsibility. 2. The short declaration at the end of a legal paper showing that the paper was duly executed and acknowledged.

Action. In the legal sense, a formal complaint or a suit brought in court.

Additur. An increase by a judge of the amount of damages awarded by a jury.

Adjudicate, Adjudication. Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree. Also the judgment given.

Administrative Agency. Governmental body responsible for administering and implementing a particular legislation, such as laws governing traffic safety or workers’ compensation. These agencies may have rulemaking power and judge-like authority to decide disputes.

Administrative Hearing. Proceeding before an administrative agency which consists of an argument, a trial, or both. Rules governing the proceeding, including rules of evidence, are generally less strict than in civil or criminal trials.

Administrator or Administratrix. Person appointed by a court to administer a deceased person’s estate. The person may be male (in which case, he would be referred to as the “administrator”) or female (in which case, she would be referred to as the “administratrix”).

Adversary Proceeding. Legal proceeding involving parties with opposing interests, with one party seeking legal relief and the other opposing it.

Ad Litem. A Latin term meaning for the purposes of the lawsuit. For example, a guardian “ad litem” is a person appointed by the court to protect the interests of a minor or legally incompetent person in a lawsuit.

Allegation. The claim made in a pleading by a party to an action setting out what he or she expects to prove.

Amicus Curiae. (Latin: “friend of the court.”) Person or organization that files a legal brief with the court expressing its views on a case involving other parties because it has a strong interest in the subject matter of the action.

Admissible Evidence. Evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.

Affiant. person who signs an affidavit.

Affidavit. A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. For example, in civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used to support motions for summary judgment.

Agreement. Mutual assent between two or more parties; normally leads to a contract; may be verbal or written.

Agreed Medical Evaluator (AME). This is the physician that is agreed to by plaintiff’s attorney and a defendant insurance company.

Alternative Dispute Resolution. Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration and settlement among others.

Allegation. The claim made in a pleading by a party to an action, setting out what he or she expects to prove.

Alternative Work. If a doctor deems an injured employee unable return to your job because, the employer is encouraged to offer alternative work instead of regular work duties.

American Medical Association (AMA). National physician’s group. The AMA has published the permanent impairment guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

Answer. In a civil case, the defendant’s written response to the plaintiff’s complaint. It must be filed within a specified period of time, and it either admits to or (more typically) denies the factual or legal basis for liability. Normally a defendant has 30 days in which to file an answer after being served with the plaintiff’s complaint. In some courts, an answer is simply called a “response”.

Appeal. Request to a superior or higher court to review and change the result in a case decided by an inferior or lower court or administrative agency.

AOE/COE (Arising out of and occurring in the course of employment). Injury caused by and happening while on the job.

Appearance. 1. The formal proceeding by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court. 2. A written notification to the plaintiff by an attorney stating that he or she is representing the defendant.

Appellate Court. A court having jurisdiction to hear an appeal and review the decisions of a lower or inferior court.

Arbitration. A mini-trial, which may be held in place of a court trial and conducted by a single person or a panel of three people who are not judges. The arbitrators generally are former judges or experienced lawyers. Generally arbitrations are less expensive and occur more quickly than jury trials. Arbitration awards may be converted into a legal judgment on petition to the court, unless some party has protested that there has been a gross injustice, collusion or fraud.

Assault. A willful attempt or threat to harm another person, coupled with the present ability to inflict injury on that person, which causes apprehension in that person. Although the term “assault” is frequently used to describe the use of illegal force, the correct legal term for use of illegal force is “battery .”

Assumption of the Risk. When a person voluntarily and knowingly proceeds in the face of an obvious and known danger, she assumes the risk. A person found to have assumed the risk cannot make out the duty element of a negligence cause of action. The theory behind the rule is that a person who chooses to take a risk cannot later complain that she was injured by the risk that she chose to take. Therefore, she will not be permitted to seek money damages from those who might have otherwise been responsible.

Attorney-Client Privilege. Client’s privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications between the client and his or her attorney.

Attorney-in-Fact. A private person (who is not necessarily a lawyer) authorized by another to act in his or her place, either for some particular purpose, as to do a specific act, or for the transaction of business in general, not of legal character. This authority is conferred by an instrument in writing, called a letter of attorney, or more commonly a power of attorney.

Attorney of Record. The principal attorney in a lawsuit, who signs all formal documents relating to the suit.

Average Weekly Wage. After being calculated, the average weekly wage is the number used to determine what loss of earnings benefits a worker who is injured on the job will receive under the Workers Compensation Act in Pennsylvania. There are various methods used to determine the average weekly wage, and the calculation process is complex.

Legal Dictionary: B
Bad Faith. Intention to mislead or deceive; conscious refusal to fulfill some duty. Implies active ill will, as opposed to negligence. Bad faith is not bad judgment; it requires conscious wrongdoing.

Bailiff. Court officer responsible for keeping order in the court, custody of the jury, and custody of prisoners while in court.

Battery. The unlawful use of force resulting in the injury of another. Battery always includes assault. See assault.

Bench. The seat occupied by the judge. More broadly, the court itself.

Bench trial or Non-Jury Trial. Trial before a judge and without a jury. In a bench trial, the judge decides questions of law and questions of fact.

Beneficiary. Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. In a trust, a person who is to receive benefits from the trust.

Benefit Notice. A required letter or form sent to you by the insurance company to inform you of benefits you may be entitled to receive.

Best Evidence. The most direct evidence possible, such as producing an original document to prove that the document exists and what it states. A copy of a document or testimony by a witness would be “secondary evidence.” The best evidence rule prohibits the introduction of secondary evidence unless best evidence cannot be obtained, so long as the party seeking to introduce the secondary evidence is not at fault in making the best evidence incapable of being obtained.

Bifurcation. Splitting a trial into two parts. a liability phase and a penalty phase. In some cases, a new jury may be assigned to deliberate for the penalty phase.

Binding Authority. Law that controls the outcome of a case. For example, a decision on the same point of law by a higher court in the same state must be followed by a lower court in that state. See precedent.

Breach of Contract. Failure, without legal excuse, to perform all or some of the promises made in a contract.

Brief. Written document, usually prepared by an attorney, submitted to the court about a case, containing summaries of the facts of the case, relevant laws, and an argument showing how the laws support that party’s position.

Burden of Proof. Also known as “Standard of Proof.” Degree of proof required in a specific kind of case to prevail. In the majority of civil cases, it is proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Bystander. In products liability law, a person who neither buys nor uses a product, but who nevertheless is injured by the product and may have a cause of action.

Legal Dictionary: C
Capacity Defense. Broadly, describes a defendant’s lack of some fundamental ability to be held accountable. For example, in Pennsylvania, persons under 7 years of age are presumed incapable of negligence.

Caption. The heading on a legal document listing the parties, the court, the case number, and related information.

Carve-out. Carve-out programs allow employers and unions to create their own alternatives for workers’ compensation benefit delivery and dispute resolution under a collective bargaining agreement.

Case Law. Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts, particularly the Supreme Court.

Casualty. A loss of property due to fire, storm shipwreck or other casualty, which is allowable as a deduction in computing taxable income.

Causation. The act by which an effect is produced. See also “legal cause” and “proximate cause.”

Cause. A lawsuit, litigation, or action. Any question, civil or criminal, litigated or contested before a court of justice.

Cause of Action. Fact or facts that give someone the right to seek a remedy through the court because the facts of the case apply to a certain law sought to be enforced.

Certification. 1. Written attestation. 2. Authorized declaration verifying that an instrument is a true and correct copy of the original.

Certiorari. (Latin: “To be informed of.”) Writ issued by a superior or higher court to a lower court requiring the lower court to produce a certified record of a case tried there so that the superior court can examine the lower court proceedings for errors. See record .

Civil Action. Action brought to enforce private rights. Generally, all actions except criminal actions.

Civil Law. Body of law concerned with private rights and remedies, as contrasted with criminal law. Compare with criminal law.

Civil Procedure. The rules and process by which a civil case is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.

Claim Petition. In cases where a worker is injured on the job, the injured employee files a claim petition to seek initial compensation. This occurs when there has been a Notice of Denial – no workers’ compensation payments have been made or medical benefits have not been paid.

Class Action. A means by which one or more individuals are able to sue for themselves and as representatives of other people. A class action requires: an identifiable group of people with a well-defined interest in the facts and law of the suit; too many people in the group for it to be practical to bring them all before the court; and the individuals bringing suit are able to adequately represent the entire group.

Claim Form. The form used to report a work injury or illness to your employer. The form is filed out and turned in at your place of business.

Claim Petition. When a worker is injured on the job, he or she files this type of petition to seek initial compensation after receiving a Notice of Workers Compensation Denial.

Claimant. In a workers compensation case, the person who makes a claim or asserts a right; the injured worker who files a claim petition or otherwise receives workers compensation benefits.

Claims Administrator. The term for insurance companies and others that handle your workers’ compensation claim. Most claims administrators work for insurance companies or third party administrators handling claims for employers. Some claims administrators work directly for large employers that handle their own claims.

Clear and Convincing Evidence. Standard of proof commonly used in civil lawsuits and in regulatory agency cases. It governs the amount of proof that must be offered in order for the plaintiff to win the case.

Collateral Source Rule. The rule ensures that compensation awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit will not be reduced if the plaintiff receives compensation for the same injury from another source, such as insurance. Under the rule, a defendant tort-feasor is unable to benefit from the fact that the plaintiff received money from another source, such as insurance, because of the defendant’s tort.

Commonwealth Court (Pennsylvania). The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court is an appellate court that hears appeals from decisions of administrative agencies.

Commutation. An order by a workers’ compensation judge for a lump sum payment of part or all of your permanent disability award.

Comparative Negligence. Comparing the plaintiff’s contributory negligence to the defendant’s negligence. Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence statute states that when a plaintiff is guilty of contributory negligence and that negligence was not greater than the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s damages will be diminished in proportion to his negligence in causing the accident.

Compensation. Something that makes up for a loss. In workers’ compensation cases, it refers to payment to unemployed or injured workers or their dependents.

Compensatory Damages. Damages that cover actual injury or economic loss. Compensatory damages are intended to put the injured party in the position he was in prior to the injury. Compensatory damages typically include medical expenses, lost wages and the repair or replacement of property. Also called “actual damages”.

Complainant. The party who complains or sues; one who applies to the court for legal redress. Also called the plaintiff.

Complaint. In the legal sense, the document a plaintiff files with the court which contains allegations and damages sought. A complaint generally starts a lawsuit.

Compromise and Release. In workers compensation cases, this occurs when a lump sum payment of money is paid by the insurance carrier to an injured worker to resolve the case. This lump sum is in lieu of the weekly compensation benefits the injured worker is receiving and may or may not include future medical benefits.
Circumstantial Evidence. Evidence not based on actual personal knowledge or observation of the fact in dispute, but, rather, evidence of other personal knowledge or observation which allows a jury to infer the existence or nonexistence of the fact in dispute. An example of direct evidence of who was at fault for a car accident would be a witness who actually saw the accident. An example of circumstantial evidence in this case, would be a witness who drove by after the impact and saw the defendant’s car in the wrong lane.

Common Law. Law deriving its authority from usage and customs or judgments of courts recognizing and enforcing such usages and customs. Generally, law made by judges rather than by legislatures.

Comparative Negligence. Comparing the plaintiff’s contributory negligence to the defendant’s negligence. Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence statute states that when a plaintiff is guilty of contributory negligence and that negligence was not greater than the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s damages will be diminished in proportion to his negligence in causing the accident.

Conciliation. A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps lower tensions, improve communications, and explore possible solutions. Conciliation is similar to mediation, but it may be less formal.

Conservatorship. Legal right given to a person to manage the property and financial affairs of a person deemed incapable of doing that for himself or herself. (See also guardianship. Conservators have somewhat less responsibility than guardians.)

Contingent Fee Agreement . An agreement between an attorney and his or her client whereby the attorney agrees to represent the client for a percentage of the amount recovered. This fee agreement is frequently used in personal injury actions.

Continuance. Postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.

Contract. A legally enforceable agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in writing.

Contributory Negligence. Broadly, carelessness on the plaintiff’s part. More precisely, conduct which falls below the standard of care established by law for the protection of one’s self against unreasonable risk of harm.

Corroborating Evidence. Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.

Counterclaim. Claim brought by a defendant in a lawsuit against the plaintiff.

Court. Refers to a specific court, such as The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or may also refer to a judge.

Court Costs. The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorneys’ fees. An amount of money may be awarded to the successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.

Court Reporter. The person who stenographically records and transcribes testimony during court proceedings or related proceedings such as depositions.

Criminal Law. Criminal law declares what conduct is criminal and prescribes punishment to be imposed for criminal conduct. The purpose of criminal law is to prevent harm to society.

Cross Claim. Claim brought by a defendant in a lawsuit against a co-defendant in the lawsuit.

Cross-Examination. The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.

Cumulative Injury. An injury that was caused by repeated events at work.

Legal Dictionary: D
Damages. Money payment recovered in the courts for an injury or loss caused by an unlawful act or omission or negligence of another.

Death Benefits. Benefits paid to surviving dependents when a work injury results in death.

Decedent. A deceased person.

Declaratory Judgment. Judicial adjudication of the rights of the parties in a lawsuit made to clarify the parties’ legal positions.

Decree. Declaration of the court announcing the legal consequences of the facts found. See also order, judgment.

Default Judgment. A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the charges.

Defendant. In civil law, the party defending a lawsuit ; the party against whom the plaintiff seeks to recover damages from.

Delay Letter. A letter sent to you by the insurance company explaining why payments are delayed.

Demurrer. Defendant’s claim that even if the allegations in a complaint are true, they are not sufficient to impose any liability on the defendant.

Denied Claim. A claim in which the insurance company does not believe that your injury or illness was work related and therefore denies your claim. Disability. A physical or mental impairment that limits everyday activities.

Deposition. Testimony of a witness taken under oath, but not in a courtroom. May be used to discover evidence prior to trial or to preserve testimony for use in court at a later time.

De Novo. A new. A trial de novo is a new trial of a case.

Deponent. The person who testifies at a deposition.

Dicta. Plural of “obiter dictum.” A remark made by a judge in a legal opinion that is irrelevant to the decision and does not establish a precedent.

Direct Evidence. Generally, eyewitness evidence. Compare with circumstantial evidence.

Direct Examination. The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

Directed Verdict. Now called Judgment as a matter of Law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.

Disability. In the legal sense, lack of legal capacity to perform some act. Used in a physical sense in connection with workers’ compensation acts and is a composite of (a) actual incapacity to perform employment tasks and the wage loss resulting therefrom and (b) physical bodily impairment which may or may not be incapacitating.

Discovery. The pretrial process by which one party discovers the evidence that will be relied upon in the trial by the opposing party.

Disfigurement. A technical term in workers compensation cases for a serious and permanent scar to the head, neck, or face.

Dismissal. The termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.

Dismissal With Prejudice. Final judgment against the plaintiff which prohibits bringing an action on the same cause of action in the future. In contrast, “dismissal without prejudice” allows the plaintiff to sue again for the same cause of action.

Doctrine of Avoidable Consequences or Mitigation of Damages. Imposes a duty on victims of a tort to take reasonable steps to minimize their damages after an injury has been inflicted.

Dram Shop. A drinking establishment where alcoholic beverages are served to be drunk on the premises.

Dram Shop Act. In Pennsylvania, this statute imposes liability on drinking establishments, like bars and restaurants, for harm resulting from the establishment’s service of alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons.

Due Process of Law. The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel. and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.

Duty. In negligence cases, a “duty” is an obligation to conform to a particular standard of care. A failure to so conform places the actor at risk of being liable to another to whom a duty is owed for an injury sustained by the other of which the actor’s conduct is a legal cause. See reasonable man doctrine.

Legal Dictionary: E
Employee. A person whose work activities are under the control of an individual or entity.

Employee Verification Form. In a workers compensation case, it’s a bi-annual report of earnings to be completed by the injured employee. The form is required to be returned to the insurance carrier within 30 days of receipt or benefits may be stopped.

Employer. The person or entity whose has control over your work activities.

Ergonomics. The study of how to improve the fit between the physical demands of the workplace and the employees who perform the work. Selecting, designing and modifying equipment, tools, and the work environment are all considered.

Error. In the legal sense, a mistaken interpretation of facts or application of the law that can prove grounds for an appeal.

Escheat. The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir can be found.

Estoppel. A person’s own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.

Et al. And others.

Evidence. Proof of a probative matter presented at trial for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the jury or judge. Evidence comes in a variety of forms, including testimony, writings, tangible objects, and exhibits.

. Compensation greater than is necessary to pay a plaintiff for a loss. These damages are awarded because the loss was aggravated by violence, oppression, malice, fraud or wanton and wicked conduct on the part of the defendant. Such damages are intended to punish the defendant for his evil behavior or make an example of him or her.

Exhibit. A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.

Expert. A witness who may give an opinion in court based on the particular competence of that witness.

Legal Dictionary: F
Fact Question. 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 appeal.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A federal law that provides certain employees with serious health problems or those who need to care for a child or other family member with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that group health benefits be maintained.

Family Practitioner. A physician who has a general health care practice and no specialization.

Felony. Crimes of a graver or more serious nature than misdemeanors.

Filing. Sending or delivering a document to an employer or a government agency as part of a legal process. The date of filing is the date the document is received.

Final Order. A decision or award made by a workers’ compensation judge.

Findings. A written decision by a judge about a case. This decision is final unless an appeal is filed.

Final Receipt. In a workers compensation case, it’s the form presented by the insurance carrier for the injured employee’s signature so that benefits will stop upon return to work.

First Party Benefits. In insurance law, first party benefits include medical benefits, income loss benefits, accidental death benefit, funeral benefit, and extraordinary medical benefits. In Pennsylvania, the only required coverage is $5,000 in medical benefits.

Forseeability. in tort law is the reasonable anticipation that an injury may occur through the action or inaction of another party.

Fracture. A break or crack in a bone.

Fraud. False and deceptive statement of fact intended to induce another person to rely upon and, in reliance thereof, give up a valuable thing he or she owns or a legal right he or she is entitled to.

Full Tort Option. In Pennsylvania, purchasers of motor vehicle insurance can choose “full tort,” which gives the insured the unrestricted right to seek money damages for all injuries sustained in an accident caused by another driver, including economic loss, pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages. Compare with limited tort option.

Legal Dictionary: G
General Damages. Money damages for pain and suffering, disability, or reduction in quality of life.

General Jurisdiction. Refers to courts are not limited on the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear.

Gross Negligence. Intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences to another person’s life or property. There is no clear distinction between gross negligence and willful negligence.

Guardian. One who is legally responsible for the care and management of the person or property of an incompetent or a minor.

Guardian Ad Litem. A person appointed by a court to manage the interests of a minor or incompetent person whose property is involved in litigation.

Legal Dictionary: H
Harmless Error. An error committed during a trial that was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and, therefore, will not strike down the decision made at trial.

Hazardous Occupational Noise. Noise levels that exceed permissible noise exposures under the federal law.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). A type of managed health care system that contracts with medical facilities, physicians, employers, and sometimes individuals to provide medical care to a group of people known as “members.” Generally, members of HMOs don’t have any significant “out-of-pocket” expenses because the medical care is most often paid for by an employer at a fixed price per patient.

Hearing. An in-court proceeding before a judge, generally open to the public.

Hearsay. Evidence based on what the witness has heard someone else say, rather than what the witness has personally experienced or observed. Hearsay is not admissible evidence unless it qualifies under an exclusion or exception of the rules of evidence for admission.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A federal law passed in 1996 that sets basic requirements that health insurance plans must meet, including keeping a person’s medical information private.

Hematoma. The collection of blood in tissues or a space following rupture of a blood vessel.

Hemorrhagic Stroke. Occurs when an artery in the brain tears or bursts, causing blood to spill out.

Herniated Disc. A rupture of the annulus fibrosis, through which the inner disc material (nucleus pulposus) extrudes. This may put pressure on the exiting spinal nerve and/or cause an inflammatory reaction leading to radiculopathy or weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the arms or legs.

HMO Negligence. Generally, a type of medical malpractice that can be defined as the carelessness of an HMO, acting through its physicians, in making treatment decisions for a member that results in injury to that member.

Homeowner’s Insurance. Policy that insures individuals against any, some, or all of the risks of loss to personal dwellings or the contents of personal dwellings or the personal liability pertaining to personal dwellings.

Hung Jury. A jury whose members cannot agree on a verdict.

Hurt on the Job. In order to establish a right to workers compensation benefits, there must be an employment relationship during which an accident or an injury arises in the course of employment and is related thereto, and includes aggravation, reactivation, acceleration or death resulting from the injury.

Hypolordosis. Loss of a normal spinal curve

Legal Dictionary: I
Illegally Employed Minor’s Benefits. If a person under 18 is injured on the job and is working in violation of a state law relating to minors, that person is entitled to an additional 50 percent of the compensation rate as additional compensation that must be paid by the employer and not the insurance carrier.

Immunity. Freedom from duty or penalty.

Impeachment of a Witness. An attack on the credibility of a witness.

In Camera. In a judge’s chambers; in private.

In Camera Inspection. Judge’s private inspection of a document prior to his or her ruling on its admissibility or use at trial.

In Camera Proceedings. Trial or proceeding in a place not open to the public, usually in a judge’s chambers.

Inadmissible Evidence. Evidence that cannot be admitted or received.

Indemnify. To restore the victim of a loss, either in whole or in part, by payment of money or repair or replacement of the thing lost.

Independent Medical Examination (IME). Medical examination performed on an injured worker by a company doctor usually for the purpose of showing that a work-related injury no longer exists or that it has decreased in severity.

Informed Consent. Person’s agreement to allow something to happen, such as a medical procedure, that is based on full disclosure of the facts necessary to make an intelligent decision.

Injunction. A court order prohibiting a party from a specific course of action.

Informed Consent. A person’s agreement to allow something to happen (such as a medical procedure) that is based on a full disclosure of facts needed to make the decision intelligently.

Injure. 1. Hurt or harm 2. To commit an injustice or offense against; wrong.

Instruction. Direction given by a judge regarding the applicable law in a given case.

Interlocutory. Provisional; not final. An interlocutory order or an interlocutory appeal concerns only a part of the issues raised in a lawsuit.

Interrogatories. Written questions developed by one party’s attorney for the opposing party. Interrogatories must be answered under oath within a specific period of time.

Intervention. Proceeding in a suit where a third person is allowed, with the court’s permission, to join the suit as a party.

Intestate. Dying without a will.

Invitee. A person is an invitee on land if he enters land by invitation; his entry is connected with business being conducted on the land by the possessor of land; and the possessor of land is benefited by the entry.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A condition of abnormally increased spontaneous movement (motility) of the small and large intestine, generally stress can contribute to this condition.

Ischemic Colitis. An inflammation caused by interference with the blood flow to the large intestine. This lack of blood flow leads to death of tissue.

Issue. (1) The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. (2) To send out officially, as in to issue an order.

Legal Dictionary: J
Joint and Several Liability . Refers to a plaintiff’s ability to sue one or more defendants separately or all together at his or her option. Permits a group of defendants to be held both individually and collectively liable for all damages suffered by the plaintiff. The plaintiff can recover the entire amount of damages from one defendant, even if all of the defendants are liable.

For incidents arising after August 17, 2002: Due to a new Pennsylvania law, joint and several liability has been changed so that a plaintiff may no longer be able to collect all his damages from one defendant, even if more than one defendant is found responsible. A percentage of fault will be assessed against each defendant and, unless a defendant’s negligence is 60% or greater, an at fault defendant will be responsible for only its percentage of fault.

Judge. Workers’ compensation judges are appointed and are representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. They conduct hearings in an administrative proceeding for workers’ compensation cases.

Judgment. Official decision of a court resolving the issues in a legal action and stating the rights and obligations of the parties. See also decree, order.

Judicial. Pertaining to a judge.

Judicial Notice. The procedure by which a judge recognizes the existence of the truth of a certain fact having bearing on the case without the production of evidence because such fact is established by common notoriety. For example, if the accident happened on Thanksgiving, the judge can take judicial notice that the accident happened on a Thursday.

Jurisdiction. The legal right by which judges exercise their authority.

Jurisprudence. The theory and philosophy of law.

Juror. Member of a jury.

Jury. Specific number of people (usually 6 or 12), selected as prescribed by law to render a decision (verdict) in a trial.

Legal Dictionary: K
Kemp Test. an orthopedic test that indicates facet syndrome, fracture or disc involvement when a patient reports low back pain radiating to the lower extremity.

Legal Dictionary: L
Law. The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom.

Law Clerks. Persons trained in the law who assist judges or attorneys.

Lawsuit. A civil action; a court proceeding to enforce a right (rather than to convict a criminal).

Lawsuit or Suit. Generally, a court action brought by one person, the plaintiff, against another, the defendant , seeking compensation for some injury or enforcement of a right.

Lawyer. A person licensed to practice law; other words for “lawyer” include: attorney, counsel, solicitor and barrister.

Layperson. A nonprofessional; a non-expert. In law, an individual who has not undergone formal legal training.

Leading Case. Case regarded as having determined the law on a particular point, thus becoming a guide for later decisions.

Leading Question. A question that suggests the desired answer to a witness or “places words in the witness’ mouth.” With some exceptions, leading questions are prohibited on direct examination.

Legal Cause. Substantial factor in bringing about the harm. See also proximate cause.

Legal Fiction. Assumption of a fact that may or may not be true made by a judge to decide a legal question.

Liability. An obligation that one is bound in law to perform; usually involves the payment of money damages.

Liberal Construction. Judicial interpretation of the law whereby the judge expands the literal meaning of the statute to meet cases that are clearly within the spirit or reason of the law. Compare with strict construction whereby the judge adheres to the literal meaning of the words.

Licensee. In civil law, a person who enters land with consent, but nothing more.

Lien. An encumbrance on property to secure payment of a debt. A health care provider has a right to place a lien on a claim to guarantee that his/her bills will be paid when the case concludes.

Limited Jurisdiction. Refers to courts that are limited in the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear. District, municipal and police courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.

Limited Tort Option. In Pennsylvania, purchasers of motor vehicle insurance can choose “limited tort,” which restricts their right to seek money damages for an accident caused by another driver. Under limited tort, the insured can only seek money damages for economic loss, including medical bills. The insured is prohibited from seeking damages for pain and suffering, except under certain limited circumstances. Compare with full tort option.

Litigant. One who is engaged in a lawsuit.

Lordosis. Contest in court; a law suit.

Lordosis. The spinal curve of the low back and neck. The term is used to refer abnormally increased curvature (hyperlordosis) or to the normal curvature (normal lordosis).

Lump Sum. See compromise and release.

Legal Dictionary: M
Malfeasance. Commission of a wrongful act; evil doing; wrongful conduct.

Material Fact. Generally, a fact essential to a case or a defense without which said case or defense could not be supported.

Medical Malpractice
Broadly, a claim brought against a health-care professional based on professional negligence wherein the health-care professional violates the applicable standard of care and an injury results.

Member. In relation to health care, a member is a person who belongs to a health care plan, like an HMO

Misdemeanor. Crimes less serious than felonies. In Pennsylvania, the punishments associated with misdemeanors vary according to degree. A misdemeanor of the first degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years. A misdemeanor of the second degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than two years. A misdemeanor of the third degree may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year.

Misfeasance. Improper performance of a lawful act.

Mitigation of Damages or Doctrine of Avoidable Consequences. Imposes a duty on victims of a tort to take reasonable steps to minimize their damages after an injury has been inflicted.

Motion. An application made to a judge for the purpose of obtaining an order directing some act to be done in favor of the party presenting the application.

Moving Party. The party presenting the motion to the court. Compare with non-moving party.

Legal Dictionary: N
Negligence. In its broadest sense, carelessness. More precisely, conduct which falls below the standard of care established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risks of harm. In order to prevail in a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the following four elements: (1) that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (2) that the defendant breached that duty; (3) that the defendant’s breach of his or her duty of care caused the plaintiff’s injury; (4) that the plaintiff suffered injury.

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 statutory violation.

Nisi Decree. Interim decree or order that will eventually become final unless something changes or an event takes place.

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

Non-Jury Trial or Bench Trial. Trial before a judge and without a jury. In a bench trial, the judge decides questions of law and questions of fact.

Non-Moving Party. The party to a lawsuit that is not presenting a motion to the court. A non-moving party may or may not contest or oppose the motion. Compare with moving party.

Notice of Compensation Payable. Acceptance of liability for a work-related injury filed by the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier. Once a notice of compensation payable is filed, benefits would begin to be paid, and must begin to be paid, no later than 21 days after the employer receives notice of an employee’s injury.

Notice of Injury. When a worker is injured on the job, the worker is required by law to report the injury to the employer within 21 days. If the injury is not reported within 120 days from the date of the injury or having knowledge of a work-related disease, no compensation is allowed, except in cases involving progressive disease.

Notice of Workers Compensation Denial. Notice of denial of a work-related injury filed by the employer or the employer’s insurance company. After a notice of workers compensation denial is filed, an injured employee has three years from the date of injury to file a claim petition.

Legal Dictionary: O
Obiter Dictum. Remark by a judge in a legal opinion that is irrelevant to the decision and does not establish precedent . Often used in the plural, dicta.

Objection. In a trial, a reason stated on the record by an attorney that a matter or proceeding is illegal. Making objections in open court is important for purposes of making a record for appeal .

Occupational Disease. A disease resulting from on-the-job exposure to conditions or substances detrimental to heath.

Opinion. Written statement by a judge or court of the decision in a case which describes the law applied to the facts of the case and the reasons for the decision.

Order. Written direction or command made by a court or judge, and not included in a judgment. See also decree.

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

Out-of-Court Settlement. An agreement reached between a plaintiff and a defendant to resolve a lawsuit privately and without a judge’s authorization or approval.

Legal Dictionary: P
Panel of Physicians. Also known as “Panel of Doctors,” this is a posted list of doctors, specialists, and emergency care centers where injured workers in Pennsylvania must receive medical treatment for the first 90 days of injury if they wish to have their medical bills covered by their employer.

Partial Disability. In a workers’ compensation case, this refers to any disability that is less than total. Workers’ compensation benefits are generally measured by earning power in this situation.

Perjury. Intentional false statement of material importance made under oath; lying under oath.

Person. Generally, a human being. Legally, a “person” may statutorily include a corporation, partnership, trustee, legal representative, etc.

Personal Jurisdiction. The power of a court over a person. Compare with subject matter jurisdiction.

Personal Representative. One who stands in the place of another.

Petition. A formal written request for judicial action on a certain matter.

Petition to Terminate, Modify or Suspend Benefits. In a workers’ compensation case, this is the petition filed by the employer/insurance carrier in an attempt to modify, suspend or terminate an injured employee’s compensation.

Petitioner. One who presents a petition to a court, officer, or legislative body.

Plaintiff. In civil law, the person who brings an action or starts a lawsuit.

Plead. In civil law, a defendant’s formal answer to a plaintiff’s complaint.

Pleading. A document filed in a court that pertains to a case.

Possessor of Land. A person who occupies land and intends to control it. Most often, it is the owner of the property.

Power of Attorney. Written document authorizing one person to take certain legal actions on behalf of the person giving the power of attorney.

Precedent. Decision by a court that provides an example or authority for later cases involving a similar question of law. See binding authority.

Preponderance of the Evidence. The amount of evidence needed for a plaintiff to win in a civil action. A preponderance of the evidence is the greater weight of the evidence or the more convincing evidence in comparison to the evidence offered in opposition. A plaintiff can win by a preponderance of the evidence even if plaintiff’s evidence merely tips the scales in plaintiff’s favor.

Presumptively Capable of Negligence. Pennsylvania law places minors in three categories based on age. Minors under 7 are conclusively presumed incapable of negligence. Simply put, under the law, they cannot commit torts. Minors between 7 and 14 are presumed incapable of negligence, but the presumption is rebuttable or disputable, and the presumption grows weaker as the child nears his or her 14th birthday. Minors over 14 are presumptively capable of negligence. Simply put, under the law they are presumed as being able to commit torts. The burden is on the minor to prove incapacity.

Prevailing Party. Generally, the winning party in a lawsuit.

Prima Facie. Literally means “at first sight” or “on the face of it.” “Prima facie evidence” is evidence that is good and sufficient on its face. A plaintiff makes out a “prima facie case” when he or she presents “prima facie evidence,” which means that the plaintiff is permitted to prevail on that evidence alone, unless the defendant can put forth sufficient evidence to overcome it.

Primary Care Physician (PCP). A physician that is employed by or contracts with a managed health care system like an HMO that coordinates all of the member’s medical care. A PCP is usually a family practitioner. PCP’s are also known as “gatekeepers” because they control a member’s access to medical care within a health plan.

Privileged Communication . Statement protected from forced disclosure in court because the statement was made within a “protected” relationship such as attorney/client. See attorney-client privilege.

Pro Bono. (Latin: “for the good”) Used to describe the provision of services free of charge.

Procedural Law. Generally, the body of law establishing the method or procedure of enforcing rights or obtaining redress for invasion of rights. Compare with substantive law which establishes rights.

Products Liability. Area of the law involving the liability of manufacturers and sellers of dangerous or defective goods or products.

Promulgate. To officially announce.

Property Damage Liability Coverage. Automobile insurance coverage required under Pennsylvania law that provides money to pay claims if your car damages the property of another person.

Proximate Cause. The proximate cause of an injury is the primary or moving cause that produces the injury and without which the accident could not have happened, if the injury is one which might be reasonably anticipated or foreseen as a natural consequence of the wrongful act.

Punitive Damages. Also known as “Exemplary Damages.” Compensation greater than is necessary to pay a plaintiff for a loss. These damages are awarded because the loss was aggravated by violence, oppression, malice, fraud or wanton and wicked conduct on the part of the defendant. Such damages are intended to punish the defendant for his evil behavior or make an example of him or her.

Purchaser. In products liability law, a person who buys a product.

Legal Dictionary: Q
Question of Fact. See fact question.

Question of Law. An issue involving the application or interpretation of the law which is within the province of the judge. Compare with fact question.

Legal Dictionary: R
Reasonable Care. The degree of care that a prudent or careful person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.

Reasonable Man Doctrine. Also known as “Reasonable Man Standard.” The standard which a person must adhere to in order to avoid civil liability for negligence is the standard of the reasonable man under all of the circumstances, including the foreseeability of harm to other persons, including the plaintiff.

Rebut. Refute, defeat or take away the effect of an argument or assumption in a legal proceeding.

Record. The official collection of all of the material filed with a court in a legal proceeding.

Records of Work Environment. Records and documents relating to workplace health, safety, hazards, and exposure.

Recovery. Generally, compensation or restriction of a right obtained as a result of the formal judgment or decree entered by a judge.

Recusal. A judge’s withdrawal from hearing a lawsuit because of personal interest or prejudice.

Reinstatement of Benefits. Resumption of payment of workers compensation benefits after suspension or termination of benefits due to a recurrence of the disability which results in a loss of earning power.

Reinstatement Petition. Petition filed by an injured worker following a termination or suspension of payment of workers compensation benefits due to a recurrence of the disability which results in a lack of earning power. A reinstatement petition must be filed within three years of the date of the last workers compensation payment.

Report of Occupational Injury or Disease. When a worker is injured on the job and the worker provides proper notice of the injury to the employer, the employer must file a Report of Occupational Injury or Disease with the Bureau of Workers Compensation after 7 days but within 15 days after the date of the injury when the injury results in a disability that lasts more than a day, shift or turn of work. If an injury results in an employee’s death, the employer is required to file the report with the Bureau within 48 hours. See Notice of Injury.

Respondent. The party that responds to a petition.

Reversal. The setting aside of a lower court’s decision by an appellate court.

Right to Compensation. In order to be entitled to workers compensation benefits, an injured worker must establish a right to compensation. In order to establish that right, the injured worker must show an employment relationship during which an injury arose in the course of employment and is related to that employment.

Ruling. Broadly, a determination made by a judge.

Legal Dictionary: S
Sale. A contract between two parties, a seller (sometimes called a vendor) and a buyer (sometimes called a vendee), where the seller gives the buyer title and possession of property in exchange for a price.

Sane. Having a natural and normal mental condition.

Satisfy. To pay a debt or claim.

Scope of Authority. In agency law, actions by an agent that have been either actually or implicitly authorized by the person or organization for whom that agent works.

Scope of Employment. The actions done by an employee to carry out the business of an employer that are reasonably foreseeable by that employer as being part of the business.

Seasonal Employment. Employment that can only be carried out during specific seasons or fairly definite portions of the year.

Seller. Also called a vendor, one who sells goods or property for a price.

Sequester. To separate or isolate.

Serious illness. In a life insurance context, an illness that permanently or materially impairs, or is likely to permanently or materially impair, the health of the applicant.

Service of process. The act of notifying a person or organization that they are under the jurisdiction of a court so that they may appear in court or otherwise respond to the notice.

Set-off. In an automobile insurance context, when the amount recoverable under one policy or a part of that policy up to a certain limit is restricted to the difference between what has already been recovered under a different policy or part of the policy and the limit.

Settlement. An agreement between two parties in a case to either forego litigation or stop current litigation in exchange for a price. In the personal injury context, a settlement would usually involve payment from the defendant to the plaintiff, after which the case would not be tried in court.

Several Liability. Liability separate and distinct from the liability of another which is sufficient to support a lawsuit without reference to anyone else’s liability.

Severance of Actions. Judicial proceeding separating the claims of multiple parties and permitting separate actions on each one or some combination of them.

Show Cause Order. Judicial direction to appear in court and present reasons why the court should not take a proposed action.

Slip Opinion. A court decision published soon after it was made.

Social Guest. For the purposes of determining a landowner’s duty of care, somebody who goes onto somebody else’s property for the purpose of companionship and hospitality, not as a part of doing business. This person is treated as a licensee.

Social Host Liability. The liability of a person (the “social host”) who furnishes free alcoholic beverages to another (the “guest”), when the guest subsequently sustains injuries or causes injury to a third person because of his intoxication.

Sovereign Immunity. A doctrine that does not allow a lawsuit to be brought against the government without its waiver or consent.

Special Appearance. The representation by an attorney at court that he or she appears specially for the defendant for that appearance only. A special appearance will not obligate the attorney past that one appearance.

Special Jurisdiction. Power of a court to deal with only a limited type of case.

Specific Loss. In a workers’ compensation case, this is the compensation payable for loss (amputation) or permanent loss of use of members of the body, complete loss of hearing in one or both ears, loss of vision in one or both eyes, and disfigurement.

Spoliation. Generally, the destruction of evidence.

Stack or Stacking. In Pennsylvania automobile insurance law, purchasers of insurance have the option to “stack” uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you choose “stacking,” this means that you can add the coverage together for each vehicle you have insured, at least under the policy. (An issue presently exists as to whether you can “stack” coverages under separate policies of insurance.) For example, if you have two vehicles, with $100,000/$300,000 (meaning $100,000 available per person, and $300,000 available per accident) in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can “stack” the coverages and have available $200,000/$600,000 in coverage.

Standard of Care. In the law of negligence, the degree of care which a reasonable, prudent or careful person should exercise under the same or similar circumstances. If the standard falls below that established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm, the person may be liable for damages resulting from such conduct.

Standard of Proof. Also known as “Burden of Proof.” Degree of proof required in a specific kind of case to prevail. In the majority of civil cases, it is proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Stare Decisis. Policy of the courts to not overturn precedents; adherence to precedents.

State Courts. Those courts that constitute the state judicial system, in contrast to federal courts.

State Law. Those laws which apply to a specific state or ordinances that apply to a specific city or town, as opposed to federal laws.

Statute. Generally, a law created by a legislature.

Statute of Frauds. A law requiring that certain contracts must contain a written signature to be valid.

Statute of Limitations. The time prescribed by statute in which a plaintiff can bring a lawsuit.

Statute of Repose. Similar to a statute of limitations, this statute limits the time during which a cause of action can arise.

Statutory Interpretation. The act of determining the meaning of a particular law by analyzing the wording and punctuation of the statute.

Stay. Court-ordered suspension of a judicial proceeding.

Stipulation. An agreement between the parties (and usually their lawyers) made in court and presented to the judge, who will make an order based on the matters agreed to. For example, if the parties stipulate to a certain amount of spousal support, the court will make an order consistent with that stipulation.

Strict Construction. Judicial interpretation of the law whereby the judge adheres to the literal meaning of the words. Compare with liberal construction which expands the literal meaning of the statute to meet cases that are clearly within the spirit or reason of the law.

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.

Structured Settlement. An agreement wherein one party agrees to pay a sum of money over a period of time to settle a case as opposed to a lump sum payment.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction. The court’s power to deal with the general subject matter involved in a case. For example, a bankruptcy court judge has no subject matter jurisdiction to hear a divorce case.

Subornation of Perjury. Procuring someone to make a false statement under oath.

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

Subpoena Duces Tecum. Command to produce some document or paper.

Subrogation. Substitution of one person for another, giving the substitute the same legal rights as the original party. For example, an insurance company may have a right of subrogation to sue anyone whom the person it compensated had a right to sue.

Substantive Law. The body of law that creates, defines and regulates right. Compare with procedural law which prescribes the manner to enforce rights or obtaining redress for invasion of rights.

Substitution of Parties. The replacement of one party to a lawsuit by another.

Sue. The act of bringing a lawsuit.

Suit or Lawsuit. Generally, a court action brought by one person, the plaintiff, against another, the defendant , seeking compensation for some injury or enforcement of a right.

Summary Judgment. A final decision by a judge that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties. A motion for summary judgment is made after discovery is completed but before the case goes to trial.

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.

Supplier of Goods. In products liability law, all parties in the chain of supply of a product for profit, including manufacturers, sellers, and dealers.

Supplemental Agreement. In a workers’ compensation case, this is the form signed by the injured employee when there has been a change in disability status.

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 negligence, both a survival action and a wrongful death action may be brought.

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

Legal Dictionary: T
Technical Errors. Errors committed during a trial that have not prejudiced the losing party’s rights and therefore are not grounds for reversal on appeal.

Tender. An offer of money.

Testate. A person who has made a will or who has died leaving a will.

Testify. To give evidence as a witness under oath.

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

Third Party Benefits. In insurance law, third party benefits refer to the amount of available coverage that the at-fault party has in bodily injury and property damage.

Third Party Lawsuit. In workers’ compensation law, when an injury is caused by the act or failure to act of a party other than the employer, that party is the “third party,” and the injured worker may file a lawsuit against that party. An example of a third party lawsuit in workplace injury would be a products liability suit against the manufacturer of a defective tool.

Thrombotic Stroke. Occurs when a blood clot forms in an artery and blocks blood flow to the brain.

Tinnitus. A ringing or roaring sound in one or both ears.

Tipstaff. Court-appointed officer whose duty it is to serve the judge in a variety of ways while court is in session. See bailiff.

Tort. In civil law , generally, a wrong or injury committed against a person or property. A tort does not include breach of contract.

Tort-Feasor. One who commits a tort.

Tortious. Having the quality of a tort; the wrongdoer.

Total Disability. A work-related injury that results in a complete loss of earning power. In a workers’ compensation case, this may also be the phrase used to describe the compensation paid when an injured employee is totally impaired due to a work-related injury. Benefits at the total disability rate are generally two-thirds of wages up to a maximum compensation rate.

Total Loss. In a vehicle context, when the cost of repairs is more than the value of the vehicle. This term gives rise to the common term “totaled.”

Transcript. Official written copy of proceedings in a case, including hearings, depositions, and trial. Usually made by a court reporter.

Traumatic Brain Injury. An insult to the brain caused by an external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness that results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning and/or a disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning.

Trespasser. In civil law, a person who enters land without invitation, permission or privilege.

Trial. The judicial examination and determination of issues between the parties to an action.

Trial Calendar. List maintained by the clerk of court or the trial judge of cases awaiting trial, which includes trial dates, names of attorneys representing parties, and other such information.

Trial Court. The first court to hear the case, as opposed to an appellate court which hears appeals of decisions made in trial courts.

Tribunal. A court of law or the whole body of judges who comprise a jurisdiction.

Treble Damages. In certain cases, damages awarded by a jury that are tripled in amount.

Legal Dictionary: U
Unavoidable Accident. An accident which was inevitable despite all involved exercising necessary care.

Unconscionability. A doctrine where courts can deny enforcement of a contract because of unfairness or abuses to a party to the contract arising out of the making of the contract or the terms of the contract.

Unconstitutional. That which is contrary to or in conflict with the constitution.

Underinsured 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 enough insurance to pay for all losses and damages. Underinsured motorist coverage can be stacked.

Underwrite. To ensure life or property.

Undisputed fact. An admitted fact that a court has not deemed sufficiently material to necessitate its determination at a trial.

Undue Influence. Abuse of position of trust or authority in order to induce a person to do or refrain from doing something to the advantage of the person exerting the influence.

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.

Unjust Enrichment. A doctrine that says that one person should not be enriched at the expense of another and must compensate the other for any benefits received.

Unlawful Act. An illegal act.

Unreasonable. Irrational, foolish, or unwise.

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

Legal Dictionary: V
Vacate. To set aside or void an order or decision of a court.

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.

Verdict. The jury’s decision in a case. A general verdict is the jury’s finding either for the plaintiff or the defendant. A special verdict is a statement by the jury of facts it has found in response to questions submitted by the judge.

Void. Having no binding effect or legal force; null.

Legal Dictionary: W
Waiver. Knowing and voluntary relinquishment of a right. Compare with release.

Willful Negligence. Intentional performance of an unreasonable act in disregard of a known risk, making it highly probable that harm will be caused. Willful negligence usually involves a conscious indifference to the consequences. There is no clear distinction between willful negligence and gross negligence.

Workers Compensation. Insurance required of almost all employers to help cover their employees’ economic loss due to a job-related injury or illness.

Writ. Broadly, a court order requiring the performance of some act or giving authority to have the act done.

Wrongful Death Action. An action brought to recover damages for the death of a person caused by a wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another; provided that no recovery for the same damages claimed in the wrongful death action was obtained by the deceased during his lifetime. In Pennsylvania, the action may be brought by the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. If the decedent has no spouse, children or parents, the action may be brought by a personal representative in order to recover damages for hospital, nursing, medical, funeral and estate administration costs.

Wrongful Death Statute. Statutory law that provides the means for the representative of a decedent to bring suit alleging that the decedent’s death was caused by someone’s willful or negligent act and to seek compensation for monetary loss suffered because of the decedent’s death.



Accident Report:

An accident report will often contain some or all of the following information: identifying information for parties involved in the car accident, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information, witness information, and location of damage to the vehicles involved in the accident.

Act of God:

In legal usage, an act of God is a natural hazard outside human control, such as an earthquake or tsunami, for which no person can be held responsible. An act of God may amount to an exception to liability in contracts or it may be an “insured peril” in an insurance policy.


An arbitration clause in a contract is generally viewed as an expression that the parties agreed to arbitrate disagreements within the scope of the arbitration clause; and with limited exceptions, an arbitration clause is to be upheld just as any other provision in a contract should be respected.

Accident Insurance:

The words “accident” and “accidental,” as used in insurance contracts, mean that which happens by chance or fortuitously, without intention or design, and which is unexpected, unusual, and unforeseen. Under Florida law, the term “accident” encompasses not only accidental events, but also injuries or damage neither expected nor intended from the standpoint of the insured.

Attorney-Client Privilege:

The attorney-client relationship is formed when a prospective client meets with a lawyer to seek legal advice. Even if the relationship does not continue after the initial meeting, the lawyer is still bound by the duty of confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege not to disclose any information discussed.

Alternative Dispute Resolution:

Alternative dispute resolution describes the techniques or procedures for resolving disputes short of trial in the public courts. Alternative dispute resolution procedures may be adjudicatory or non adjudicatory. Adjudicatory in nature, arbitration most resembles traditional litigation. Presentations are made to one or more neutral decision makers who make a binding award.

Assignment of Benefits:

An AOB is an agreement that transfers the insurance claims rights or benefits of the policy to a third party. An AOB gives the third-party authority to file a claim, make repair decisions, and collect insurance payments without the involvement of the homeowner. AOBs have been used with life and health insurance policies for many years.


A proceeding undertaken to have a decision reconsidered by a higher authority; especially the submission of a lower court’s or agency’s decision to a higher court for review and possible reversal.


Burden of Proof:

A party’s duty to prove a disputed assertion or charge; a proposition regarding which of two contending litigants loses when there is no evidence on a question or when the answer is simply too difficult to find.

Bodily Injury:

This term appears in most commercial auto, general liability, and commercial umbrella policies. Many policies contain the same definition for bodily injury. Bodily injury means “bodily injury, sickness, or disease sustained by a person, including death resulting from any of these at any time.” Bodily injury includes illness and disease as well as physical injury. It also includes death if death results from bodily injury, sickness, or disease. Death that results from unexplained causes does not usually qualify.



The causing or producing an effect. The plaintiff must prove causation. A situation in which two or more events or conditions each would have been sufficient to produce an injurious result, so that none of the events or conditions alone will emerge as a cause of the result through application of the but-for test for actual causation.

Claim Adjuster:

One appointed to ascertain, arrange, or settle a matter; especially an independent agent or employee of an insurance company who investigates claimed losses, and negotiates and settles claims against the insurer. On the other hand, an independent adjuster who solicits business from more than one insurance company; one who is not employed by, and does not work exclusively for one insurance company.


A complaint is the first document filed with the court (actually with the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court) by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another. The party filing the complaint is usually called the plaintiff and the party against whom the complaint is filed is called the defendant or defendants. Complaints are pleadings and must be drafted carefully (usually by an attorney) to properly state the factual as well as legal basis for the claim, although some states have approved complaint forms which can be filled in by an individual. A complaint also must follow statutory requirements as to form.

Contingency Fee:

A fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court. A contingency fee is a type of payment to your attorney that only occurs when you receive some kind of monetary recovery in your case — your personal injury case settles, or you win your case at trial. To put it another way, with a contingency fee, payment for your attorney’s services is “contingent upon” your receiving some amount of compensation.


To make a claim is to make a demand for money, property, or for enforcement of a right provided by law or the making of a demand (asserting a claim) for money due, for property, from damages or for enforcement of a right. If such a demand is not honored, it may result in a lawsuit.

Compensable Injury:

Depending on the laws in your state, to be considered compensable and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation, injuries must generally have happened to an employee, not a vendor or independent contractor, be the result of a workplace injury or illness during the course of employment, and result in impairment and/or lost wages.

Compulsory Medical Examination:

An inspection of or investigation into the state of a person’s health, or of part of the body, often involving the testing of fluids, tissues, and motor responses, as well as the gathering of information about lifestyle and health history. An independent medical examination. A medical examination made by an impartial healthcare professional, usually a physician.


A contusion happens when an injured capillary or blood vessel leaks blood into the surrounding area. Contusions are a type of hematoma, which refers to any collection of blood outside of a blood vessel. While the term contusion might sound serious, it’s just a medical term for the common bruise.



Damages are the amount of money which a plaintiff (the person suing) may be awarded in a lawsuit. There are many types of damages. Special damages are those which actually were caused by the injury and include medical and hospital bills, ambulance charges, loss of wages, property repair or replacement costs. monetary recovery (money won) in a lawsuit for injuries suffered (such as pain, suffering, inability to perform certain functions) or breach of contract for which there is no exact dollar value which can be calculated. Damages are the sum of money which a person wronged is entitled to receive from the wrongdoer as compensation for the wrong.

  • Economic Damages: Economic damages are damages recovered in payment for actual injury or economic loss, which does not include punitive damages (as added damages due to malicious or grossly negligent action).
  • Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages are a sum of money adjudged to be paid by one person to another as compensation for a loss sustained by the latter in consequence of an injury committed by the former or the violation of some right.
  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are awarded in a lawsuit as a punishment and example to others for malicious, evil or particularly fraudulent acts.


The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay. With a $2,000 deductible, for example, you pay the first $2,000 of covered services yourself. After you pay your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. Your insurance company pays the rest.

Defective Medication:

As in all product liability claims, defective drug claims are based on three defect categories: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn. A manufacturing defect occurs when the pharmaceutical drug is manufactured improperly or the drug has become contaminated during the process and causes harm to the end user. Design defects occur when a pharmaceutical drug was manufactured correctly, but the side effects caused by the drug cause harm or injury. A Failure to Warn defect occurs when there is a failure to provide sufficient or appropriate instructions, warnings, or recommendations for the use of the drug. Defective drug claims can result in a great many different defendants: the manufacturer; testing laboratory; pharmaceutical sales representative; prescribing physician; clinic or hospital; and the pharmacy. When suing a hospital or physician for a drug product liability claim, the plaintiff may also have a medical malpractice claim.

Demand Letter:

A demand letter, or letter of demand (of payment), is a letter stating a legal claim (usually drafted by a lawyer) which makes a demand for restitution or performance of some obligation, owing to the recipients’ alleged breach of contract, or for a legal wrong.


The act or process of making known something that was previously unknown; a revelation of facts. In federal practice, the requirement that parties make available to each other the following information without first receiving a discovery request: (1) the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons likely to have relevant, discoverable information, (2) a copy or description of all relevant documents, data compilations, and tangible items in the party’s possession, custody, or control, (3) a damages computation, and (4) any relevant insurance agreements.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI):

DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence.” DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” or in some cases, “driving while impaired.” The terms can have different meanings or they can refer to the same offense, depending on the state in which you were pulled over. It is a crime in every state for a motorist to operate a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications. Depending on the state, the offense is called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or a similar term.


A defendant is a person accused of committing a crime in criminal prosecution or a person against whom some type of civil relief is being sought in a civil case. Terminology varies from one jurisdiction to another.


A witness’s out-of-court testimony that is reduced to writing (usually by a court reporter) for later use in court or for discovery purposes. In modern practice it means the testimony of a witness given or taken down in writing, under oath or affirmation, before a commissioner, examiner, or other judicial officer, in answer to interrogatories and cross-interrogatories, and usually subscribed by the witness. A deposition is therefore distinguished from an affidavit, which is always an ex parte statement drawn up in writing without any formal interrogation, and signed and sworn to by the party making it, although in affidavits the party making it is constantly called a deponent, and said to depose.

Distracted Driving:

Distracted driving refers to the act of driving while engaging in other activities which distract the driver’s attention away from the road. Distractions are shown to compromise the safety of the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles.

Drunk Driving:

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense in Florida. The offense is proved by impairment of “normal faculties” or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level. A DUI can be issued for simply drinking too much alcohol or being under the influence of a drug (legal or illegal). The law in the state of Florida is that a person cannot operate a vehicle if their BAC level is at or above .08. A driver is considered to be in possession of or to be operating a motor vehicle, if they are within reach of the keys for the vehicle and could drive off at any moment.

Duty of Care:

In general, a duty of care is owed to all foreseeable persons who may foreseeably be injured by the defendant’s failure to act as a reasonable person of ordinary prudence under the circumstances. Generally, there is no duty to act affirmatively, even if the failure to act appears to be unreasonable.


Excess Judgement:

A judgment that exceeds all of the defendant’s insurance coverage. Excess judgment loss is the amount of additional loss that an insurer is required to pay above the policy limit. This is often due to actions on the part of the insurance company that are found to be in violation of good business practices.

Exhaustion of Benefits:

Exhausting your benefits means that you’ve reached the maximum benefits your state law allows you to collect for the year. Once an insurance company has paid all valid claims for PIP, the benefits are then exhausted and an insurer is no longer obligated to pay any further claims or litigate those claims so long as bad faith is not alleged.

Expert Witness:

The term witness in its strict legal sense, means one who gives evidence in a cause before a court; and in its general sense includes all persons from whose lips testimony is extracted to be used in any judicial proceeding, and so includes deponents and affiants as well as persons delivering oral testimony before a court or jury.

Emergency Medical Condition:

An emergency medical condition is defined as a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in serious jeopardy to patient health.

Exemplary Damages:

Damages awarded in addition to actual damages when the defendant acted with recklessness, malice, or deceit; specifically damages assessed by way of penalizing the wrongdoer or making an example to others. Punitive damages, which are intended to punish and thereby deter blameworthy conduct, are generally not recoverable for breach of contract. The Supreme Court has held that three guidelines help determine whether a punitive-damages award violates constitutional due process:

(1) the reprehensibility of the conduct being punished; (

2) the reasonableness of the relationship between the harm and the award; and

(3) the difference between the award and the civil penalties authorized in comparable cases.



Fault is a negligent or intentional failure to act reasonably or according to law or duty. It is an improper act or omission causing injury to another and arising from ignorance, carelessness, or negligence. Fault may be gross, ordinary, and slight. Gross fault or neglect consists in not observing that care towards others which a least attentive person usually takes of his/her own affairs.

First-Party Claim:

A first-party insurance claim is when a policyholder files a claim with their own insurance company. A first-party insurance claim is between the policyholder (the first party) and the insurance company (the second party). These are contractual claims that are contingent on the specific language of the insurance policy (i.e., contract). An example of a first-party insurance claim would be a homeowner who suffers fire damage to his or her home.

Field Adjuster:

A field adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine the extent of the insuring company’s liability. Claims adjusters may handle property claims involving damage to structures, and/or liability claims involving personal injuries or third-person property damage. A field adjuster reviews each case by speaking with the claimant, interviewing any witnesses, researching records (such as police or medical records) and inspecting any involved property.



A contract by which one party (the insurer) undertakes to indemnify another party (the insured) against the risk of loss, damage, or liability arising from the occurrence of some specified contingency. An insured party usually pays a premium to the insurer in exchange for the insurer’s assumption of the insured’s risk. Although indemnification provisions are most common in insurance policies, parties to any type of contract may agree on indemnification arrangements.


An insurer is a party who agrees to compensate people, companies, or other organizations for specific financial losses. This service is typically provided for an exchange of payments called premiums. The exact perils that are covered and the exact cost of the premiums are laid out in the contractual agreement between the insurer and the insured. Insurers are often large companies who insure many different parties. The more premiums that an insurer has coming in, the more money it has available to pay out claims if there is a need to do so.


The insured receives a contract, called the insurance policy, which details the conditions and circumstances under which the insurer will compensate the insured. The amount of money charged by the insurer to the policyholder for the coverage set forth in the insurance policy is called the premium. If the insured experiences a loss which is potentially covered by the insurance policy, the insured submits a claim to the insurer for processing by a claims adjuster.


A written question (in a set of questions) submitted to an opposing party in a lawsuit as part of discovery. The interrogatories must be answered by the party to whom they are directed; or if that party is a public or private corporation, a partnership, an association, or a governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who must furnish the information available to the party. An interrogatory is not objectionable merely because it asks for an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact.



A court’s final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case. The term judgment includes an equitable decree and any order from which an appeal lies.


Known Loss Rule:

Known Loss Doctrine Definition is a principle of insurance law which prevents an insured from coverage if the insured knew the loss was probable at the time of the insurance contract. It is often referred to as the known loss doctrine and also as the known loss rule, the principle of insurance practice that states that coverage may not be obtained against a loss that has already occurred and that is known to the person seeking to obtain the coverage.


Legal Malpractice:

An instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional. To succeed in a malpractice claim, a plaintiff must also prove proximate cause and damages. Basically, it is a lawyer’s failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances.


Liability insurance provides the insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people and/or property. Liability insurance policies cover both legal costs and any payouts for which the insured party would be responsible if found legally liable. Intentional damage and contractual liabilities are generally not covered in these types of policies.


A party to a lawsuit; the plaintiff or defendant in a court action, whether an individual, firm, corporation, or other entity. any party to a lawsuit. This means plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, respondent, cross-complainant, and cross-defendant, but not a witness or attorney.

Loss of Earnings:

Wages, salary, or other income that a person could have earned if he or she had not lost a job, suffered a disabling injury, or died. • Lost earnings are typically awarded as damages in personal-injury and wrongful-termination cases. There can be past lost earnings and future lost earnings. Both are subsets of this category, though legal writers sometimes loosely use future earnings as a synonym for lost earnings.

Letter of Protection:

A letter of protection is a guarantee of payment from a law firm to a doctor. The lawyer promises to make sure the doctor is paid for medical services provided to the lawyer’s client–the doctor’s patient– from any recovery the lawyer obtains for the client. A letter of protection does not authorize a lawyer to pay a client’s medical bills.

Limitation of Risk:

Risk limitation is a strategy designed to limit a company’s exposure by taking some action or series of actions. It is meant to lessen any negative consequence or impact of specific, known risks, and is most often used when risks are unavoidable. Overall, it is the maximum amount an insurer or reinsurer can be obligated to pay in any one loss event.

Litigation Risk:

Litigation risk is the possibility that legal action will be taken because of an individual’s or corporation’s actions, inaction, products, services, or other events. Corporations generally employ some type of litigation risk analysis and management to identify key areas where the litigation risk is high, and thereby take appropriate measures to limit or eliminate those risks. They vary wildly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.



Basically, it is a lawyer’s failure to render professional services with the skill, prudence, and diligence that an ordinary and reasonable lawyer would use under similar circumstances. A lawyer is prohibited from making an agreement prospectively limiting malpractice liability to a client, unless he is permitted by law to do so and the client is independently represented in making the agreement.


A method of nonbinding dispute resolution involving a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution. A process whereby a neutral country helps other countries peacefully resolve disputes between them.mSimply stated, mediation does not resolve a dispute, it merely helps the parties do so.


An order from an appellate court directing a lower court to take a specified action. A judicial command directed to an officer of the court to enforce a court order. The issuance of the mandate marks the end of appellate jurisdiction, since jurisdiction follows the mandate; that is, the effect of the mandate is to bring the proceedings in a case on appeal to a close and to remove it from the jurisdiction of the appellate court, returning it to the court below. Under the Rules of Appellate Procedure, the mandate is effective when issued.

Medical Malpractice:

An instance of negligence or incompetence on the part of a medical doctor. Medical malpractice is a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical or health care professional deviates from standards in his or her profession, thereby causing injury to a patient. To succeed in a medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must also prove proximate cause and damages.



The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation; any conduct that falls below the legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm, except for conduct that is intentionally, wantonly, or willfully disregardful of others’ rights; the doing of what a reasonable and prudent person would not do under the particular circumstances, or the failure to do what such a person would do under the circumstances. The elements necessary to recover damages for negligence are

(1) the existence of a duty on the part of the defendant to protect the plaintiff from the injury complained of, and

(2) an injury to the plaintiff from the defendant’s failure.


A consensual bargaining process in which the parties attempt to reach agreement on a disputed or potentially disputed matter. Negotiation usually involves complete autonomy for the parties involved, without the intervention of third parties. Negotiations are basically dealings conducted between two or more parties for the purpose of reaching an understanding. Negotiations often include official discussions between the representatives of opposing groups that are trying to reach an agreement, especially in politics or business.


In terms of automobile liability insurance, Florida is a No-Fault insurance state. This term means that every driver must carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage. When a motorist gets into an accident, he or she can use this coverage to pay for losses sustained in an accident. Overall, No-Fault coverage protects and pays for the insured’s expenses in any accident; after No-Fault coverage is exhausted, the insured can turn to Medical Payments coverage; after Medical Payments coverage is exhausted and if not at fault, the insured can look to the other party’s liability insurance; and finally, should the opposing party’s limits be exhausted or nonexistent, Uninsured Motorist coverage can, within its limits, cover the rest.

Negligent Security:

Negligent security is a special type of premises liability claim where a person is injured by a third-party on another’s property. Often times an attacker will take advantage of the lack of lighting, fences, locks, security cameras, or security guards at a particular location to assault and rob unaware guests or passersby. In extreme cases, these assaults may result in catastrophic injury or death. A number of factors can contribute to unsafe conditions, including those created by third-party attacks.


Out-of-court Settlement:

In Civil Law, Settlement refers to the legal agreement adopted by opposing parties before or during court proceedings, spelling out the negotiated terms and obligations that all will accept to officially end a dispute. Most civil cases are decided not by trial, but by settlement. In civil cases, the parties may, without reference to the Court, at any time before final judgment, offer to settle or compromise all or any of the matters in issue between them.


Partial Disability:

Partial disability is defined as any type of disability in which a worker is unable to perform at full physical capacity. This is usually due to an on the job injury or due to illness. In terms of collecting disability payments or damages awards, there can be significant differences between total vs. partial disability. For partial disability, the legal remedies usually include compensation for lost wages due to the injury. However, it sometimes results in lower pay rates for the worker, as they may still be able to work, but are not able to perform the same types of tasks as before.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP):

Personal injury protection is an extension of car insurance available in some U.S. states that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages. In Florida, PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection, a type of no-fault insurance coverage that pays medical bills and lost wages in the event of a Florida accident. Understanding a Personal Injury Protection claim and PIP law in Florida are key, since this is the main form of insurance coverage for drivers of motor vehicles.

Pecuniary Damages:

Pecuniary damages are damages that have a discernible, quantifiable monetary amount attached to them. Examples include medical bills, property damage and loss of wages. These are typically things like pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, future wages and emotional distress.


The plaintiff is the person bringing a lawsuit to court, by filing a plea or motion. More frequently these days, in civil law cases, a plaintiff is often called a claimant. That is, the plaintiff or claimant is the person bringing a claim against another person. The term claimant is also used in arbitration cases.

Post-concussion Syndrome (PCS):

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a set of symptoms that may continue for weeks, months, or a year or more after a concussion. It is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The majority of PCS cases resolve after a period of time.

Prognosis Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs following exposure to a traumatic event. The emotional and physical symptoms of PTSD occur in three clusters: re-experiencing the trauma, marked avoidance of usual activities, and increased symptoms of arousal. Before a diagnosis of PTSD can be made, the patient’s symptoms must significantly disrupt normal activities and last for more than one month.

Premises Liability:

Premises liability is the name for the area of law that determines who will be responsible for your injuries when a person or company owns or is in legal possession of a piece of property. Liability, under a cause of action for premises liability, is based on the negligence of the property owner or occupant in allowing licensees and invitees to enter an area on the property, without warning, where that owner or occupant could foresee that such persons might be injured by a dangerous condition on the property that is not readily apparent.

Preponderance of Evidence:

Preponderance of Evidence is the burden of proof in most civil trials, in which the jury is instructed to find for the party that, on the whole, has the stronger evidence, however slight the edge may be. The greater weight of the evidence, not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to a fact but by evidence that has the most convincing force; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other.

Product Liability:

A manufacturer’s or seller’s tort liability for any damages or injuries suffered by a buyer, user, or bystander as a result of a defective product. Products liability can be based on a theory of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. It is essentially a legal theory by which liability is imposed on the manufacturer or seller of a defective product.

Proximate Cause:

Proximate cause is a happening which results in an event, particularly injury due to negligence or intentional wrongful act. In order to prevail (win) in a lawsuit for damages due to negligence or some other wrong, it is essential to claim (plead) proximate cause in the complaint and to prove in trial that the negligent act of the defendant was the proximate cause (and not some other reason) of the damages to the plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit). Sometimes there is an intervening cause which comes between the original negligence of the defendant and the injured plaintiff, which will either reduce the amount of responsibility or, if this intervening cause is the substantial reason for the injury, then the defendant will not be liable at all.


The term prognosis refers to making an educated guess about the expected outcome of mental health treatment, a prediction of the process one may have to go through in order to heal, and the extent of healing expected to take place.


A Legal Proceeding is any action, suit, litigation, arbitration, proceeding (including any civil, criminal, administrative, investigative or appellate proceeding), hearing, inquiry, audit, examination or investigation commenced, brought, conducted or heard by or before, or otherwise involving, any court or other Governmental Body or any arbitrator or arbitration panel.



Rehabilitation is the process of helping a person who has suffered an illness or injury restore lost skills and so regain maximum self-sufficiency. Rehabilitation can also be a set of interventions needed when a person is experiencing or is likely to experience limitations in everyday functioning due to ageing or a health condition, including chronic diseases or disorders, injuries or traumas.


Sexual Assault:

The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include: attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body, and penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape.

Stacking of Coverages:

Stacked car insurance increases your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), depending on the number of vehicles you own. It allows you to combine the limits for each vehicle, giving you a greater total amount of coverage. This is in contrast to unstacked coverage which applies your standard coverage limits to one specific vehicle, without combining the amounts.

Slip and Fall:

Slip and fall is a term used for a personal injury case in which a person slips or trips and is injured on someone else’s property. These cases usually fall under the broader category of cases known as “premises liability” claims. Slip and fall accidents usually occur on property (or “premises”) owned or maintained by someone else, and the property owner may be held legally responsible.

Statute of Limitations:

How long an individual has, as required by law, to file a lawsuit. This designated time period varies by state and case type. Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts (this law can be found at Florida Statutes Annotated section 95.11(3)).

Strict Liability:

Legal fault that does not depend on actual negligence or intent to harm; also referred to as absolute liability. In certain accident and injury cases, Florida law imposes strict liability which means the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the defendant behaved negligently in order to recover damages.


Third-Party Claims:

A third party claim refers to a claim made by a defendant during the course of legal proceedings with the intention of enjoining an individual or entity that is not involved in the original action to perform a related duty. One good example of a third party claim is an indemnity claim against a third party. In some situations, third party proceedings are undertaken to determine how negligence should be apportioned between a defendant and a third party.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI):

Traumatic brain injuries usually occur when a person receives a violent blow to the head or body. The severity of the brain injury will vary between mild, moderate, and severe. When it comes to mild brain injuries, the symptoms are usually temporary. On the other hand, when a person suffers a more serious brain injury, the effects can be more severe and lead to bruising and/or bleeding of the brain.


Workers’ Compensation:

Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp) is a form of accident insurance paid by employers. No payroll deductions are taken out of employees’ salaries for this insurance. If you’re injured on the job or acquire a work-related illness, workers’ comp will pay your medical expenses, and if you can’t work, it will also cover wage-loss compensation until you’re able to return to work.

Wrongful Death:

Wrongful death is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death. The claim is brought in a civil action, usually by close relatives, as enumerated by statute. When someone dies due to the fault of another person or entity (like a car manufacturer), the survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits seek damages–compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.