PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL GLOSSARY
Glossary of Personal Injury Law Terms
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Abstract of Title: A
chronological summary of all official records and recorded documents
affecting the title to a parcel of real property.
Accomplice: 1. A partner in a crime. 2. A person who
knowingly and voluntarily participates with another in a criminal
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.
Acquit: To find a defendant not guilty in a criminal trial.
Action. In the legal sense, a formal complaint or a suit
brought in court.
Additur: An increase by a judge in the amount of damages
awarded by a jury.
Adjudication: Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree.
Also the judgment given.
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.
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
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: 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").
Admissible evidence: Evidence that can be legally and
properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.
Adversary Proceeding. Legal proceeding involving parties with
opposing interests, with one party seeking legal relief and the
other opposing it.
Affiant: A person who makes and 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 criminal cases, affidavits are
often used by police officers seeking to convince courts to grant a
warrant to make an arrest or a search. 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.
Aid and Abet: To actively, knowingly or intentionally assist
another person in the commission or attempted commission of a crime.
Allegation. The claim made in a pleading by a party to an
action setting out what he or she expects to prove.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: Settling a dispute without a
full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation,
arbitration, and settlement, among others.
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.
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
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 form of alternative dispute resolution in
which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party and
agree to abide by his or her decision. In arbitration there is a
hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.
Arbitrator: A person who conducts an arbitration.
Arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is
accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the
charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Sometimes called a
preliminary hearing or initial appearance.
Arrest: To take into custody by legal authority.
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-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.