Acknowledgment: An affirmation or admission of obligation or responsibility.
Acquittal: The finding by a judge or jury that the defendant is not guilty of the crime with which the person was charged.
Action: A legal and formal proceeding to enforce one’s rights.
Adjudication: The legal process by which a judge reviews evidence, hears argumentation and resolves a case in a court of law.
Affidavit: A formal written statement under oath that can be used in court.
Alimony: A sum of money that a person is required to provide to their spouse during separation or following a divorce. Alimony is not child support.
Annulment: A legal proceeding that cancels a marriage declaring that it never existed.
Appeal: An application to a higher court to review and reverse the decision of a lower court.
Appearance: When a defendant is first brought in front of a judge in criminal court.
Arbitration: A private method of resolving legal issues outside of the courtroom.
Arbitrator: A neutral party who hears both sides of a legal dispute (arbitration) and has the authority to make a legally binding decision.
Arraignment: A courtroom procedure where a defendant is formally charged and informed of the charges brought against him or her. A defendant can either plead guilty or not guilty following the arraignment.
Asbestos: A naturally occurring element and carcinogen widely used for fire-resistant materials until the early 1970s. Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer.
Assault: Intentionally causing another person apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact
Attorney: An attorney-at-law is a legal professional who advises or represents clients in either pleading or defending a case.
Bar: The formal organization of the legal profession which enforces professional standards of ethics and conduct.
Battery: A physical act that results in injury or offensive contact with another person. Often combined with an assault charge, or assault and battery.
Bench: The location where a judge sits in a courtroom which represents the administration of justice.
Beneficiary: The designated person who receives the rewards of an insurance policy or will.
Benefit: Any profit or reward received through a formal contract, such as an insurance policy or will.
Bifurcation: The splitting of one case into two separate trials.
Brief: A written legal document that is presented to the court to aid in a decision.
Caption: The standardized heading of legal documents that contains important case information, including the defendant, plaintiff, judge and case number.
Cause: An act or inaction that brings about a result. Cause must be established in court to find a defendant liable.
Certification: The act of certifying, or creation of a certified statement.
Claim: A formal demand for compensation for an injury or other harm.
Class Action Lawsuit: A lawsuit where a group of people with common issues are represented by one plaintiff who brings a case to court on their behalf.
Compensation: Something, usually money, provided to make amends with a person for losses or injury caused.
Concussion: A brain injury caused by a blow or violent shaking of the head.
Conservator: A person legally appointed to care for a person with physical or mental limitation due to disability or old age. Conservators can care for financial or daily needs.
Contract: A verbal or written agreement enforceable by law.
Contusion: Also known as a bruise, an area of skin where injury has caused capillaries to burst.
Conviction: A formal decision and declaration that a defendant is guilty, following a jury verdict or judicial decision.
Copyright: A legal right to intellectual property, especially creative works, for a set period.
Corporation: The legal entity of a business that is separated from its owners.
Court: 1. The official meeting where a judge leads legal proceedings, 2. The location of legal proceedings presided over by a judge.
Damages: The amount of money the defendant must pay as recompense for breaching a contract or causing injury or loss.
Deductible: The amount that an insurance policyholder must pay when making a claim before the insurance covers the rest.
Deposition: Recording the oral testimony of a person under oath outside of court for use during court proceedings.
Disability: In legal terms, the lack of legal ability to perform an action.
Disclosure: The process of disclosing any documents that may be used during court to the other party, as required by law.
Discovery: The formal exchange of facts and evidence regarding the case from both parties involved in the case or other parties.
Double jeopardy: The constitutional protection from undergoing trial twice for the same crime or offense.
Due process: The fair treatment of a person and the protection of legal right during judicial processes.
Elder abuse: A single or repeated action or inaction that harms or causes distress to an elderly person. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, negligent or financial.
Employee: A person who is hired to work for a company or another person for compensation.
Ergonomics: The practice of changing a work environment to meet the needs of employees rather than forcing employees to adapt to dangerous or harmful work conditions.
Et al: An abbreviation for the latin term, et alia, meaning “and others.”
Evidence: Anything that is presented in a court of law to prove or disprove a case.
Felony: A serious crime punishable with jail time of over one year or death.
Fiduciary: A person or organization that is ethically obligated to act on behalf of another person in their best interest, rather than their own.
Filing: The delivery of documents to a court clerk and entering of those documents into the official record.
Findings: The result of deliberation by a jury or court of law.
Fraud: When a person engages in false or deceitful conduct with the intention of gaining something of value from another.
Guardian: A legal guardian is appointed to care for a child in the case where neither parent is able to adequately care for the child.
Guardian ad litem: A person appointed by the court to identify the care situation that is in the best interest of a child, usually during divorce proceedings. Courts may also appoint guardian ad litem in cases involving people who are incompetent or incarcerated.
Hazard: A danger or risk.
Hearing: A proceeding before a judge in a court of law.
Homeowner’s Insurance: Insurance for an owned residential property, which protects the asset in case of damage or destruction.
Immunity: Protection from accountability for breaking certain laws in the pursuit of something of greater societal value.
Insurance: A contract where the insured pays an insurer a small sum of money for protection from a significant and unpredictable financial loss.
Insured: The person who holds the insurance policy.
Insurer: The entity that provides insurance protection.
Intervention: A legal procedure where a third party person is granted permission to join a lawsuit as either a plaintiff or defendant.
Issue: In a lawsuit, an issue is a disputed point of fact or law.
Judge: A public official who is given authority to hear cases and make judgments.
Judgment: A decision by a judge in a court of law, often accompanied by an explanation of the reasoning used to reach the decision.
Law: A system of rules enforced at an international, national or local level with punishment for those who break the rules.
Lawyer: A person who practices law and advises clients on legal matters.
Legal aid: A service provided by nonprofit organizations to provide legal advice and representation to people who cannot afford a lawyer for non-criminal cases.
Liability: Something a person or entity is legally responsible for.
Licensee: A person, business or other entity that is legally allowed to perform a certain activity.
Lien: A security interest in property held by a creditor. If the debt is not paid, the creditor may be able to take possession of the property.
Litigation: The process of resolving a dispute through the court system.
Loss: The value of injury or damages caused by another person or entity.
Maintenance: A term used in family law to describe alimony or spousal support.
Mandate: A demand or ruling from the court that a person is obligated to obey.
Mediation: A process where two parties discuss their legal issue with a neutral and trained third party present hoping to settle the issue without going to court. Unlike arbitration, mediation is not legally binding.
Mesothelioma: A form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Misdemeanor: A crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail or a fine.
Moot: A legal argument for the purpose of legal education, or a legal point that will not change the outcome of a case.
Negligence: A failure to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.
Negotiation: An alternative option to resolve disputes without going to court by arriving at a settlement through discussion.
Notary: Also called a notary public, a notary is a person allowed by law to help verify the validity of legally binding documents.
Paralegal: A legal professional who completes substantive legal work for a lawyer, company or other entity for which a lawyer is responsible. As a general rule, paralegals may assist lawyers, but may not practice law themselves.
Parties: Persons who are actively involved in a legal proceeding, such as the plaintiff and defendant.
Perjury: Lying under oath.
Petition: A formal request for a specific action by the court.
PIP: Also known as personal injury protection or no-fault insurance. A type of coverage that pays the medical bills of a person who is injured in a car accident regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident.
Plaintiff: The person bringing a case against another person or entity (the defendant).
Power of Attorney: Written authorization to make legal decisions or take action on behalf of another person.
Precedent: An existing court decision that provides guidance to courts for ruling on subsequent cases with similar issues.
Pro Bono: Providing legal services for free to a person who cannot otherwise afford legal representation.
Pro Se: Acting as one’s own lawyer, representing oneself in court.
Proceeding: The full process of a regular lawsuit, from filing to settlement.
Prognosis: The likely trajectory of an illness or injury.
Prosecutor: A public official who conducts a case against the defendant in criminal trials.
Purchaser: A person who buys something.
Quid Pro Quo: Something done with the expectation that one will get something in return.
Rebut: To prove that a statement or evidence is false.
Record: A written document that accounts for everything that happened during court proceedings. The record of a case includes all pleadings and transcripts filed with the court.
Recovery: The amount of money gained by the plaintiff as the result of a settlement or judgment.
Rehabilitation: Preparing someone who has committed a crime to become a productive member of society.
Request: The ask from an attorney to a judge for something to be granted or completed.
Retainer: The fee that a client pays to an attorney before completing work for the client.
Reversal: When a court of appeals overturns the decision of a lower court.
Ruling: An official decision on a point of law by a judge.
Seller: The person selling goods or services.
Sequester: The isolation of a jury during a high-profile case to prevent a tainting impact of media or outside sources. Witnesses may also be sequestered until after they testify so they will not hear other witnesses.
Standing: The capacity to bring a lawsuit based on the plaintiff having a redressable injury.
Statute of limitations: A length of time that a plaintiff has to bring a case against a defendant following the crime, harm or damage.
Stipulation: An agreement between parties in a lawsuit.
Subpoena: A summons to compel witness testimony or the production of documents.
Sue: To bring a civil action against another person or entity.
Transcript: A copy of the record of court proceedings. Usually a written or printed version of oral testimony or argument.
Venue: The location where something takes place.
Void: Means of “no legal effect,” as if something never existed.
Will: A document that shares a person’s wishes for the distribution of their assets upon their death.
Worker’s compensation: Provides financial compensation to an employee who is hurt while completing job responsibilities.