PERSONAL INJURY LEGAL GLOSSARY
Glossary of Personal Injury Law Terms
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- M -Magistrate: Judicial officer exercising some
of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a
Malfeasance: Commission of a wrongful act; evil doing;
Malicious Prosecution: An action instituted with intention
of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which
terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.
Mandamus: A writ issued by a court ordering a public
official to perform an act.
Manslaughter: The unlawful killing of another without
intent to kill; either voluntary (upon a sudden impulse); or
involuntary (during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily
expected to result in great bodily harm). See also murder.
Material Fact: Generally, a fact essential to a case or a
defense without which said case or defense could not be supported.
Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution in
which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who
helps them agree on a settlement.
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
Memorialized: In writing.
Mens Rea: The "guilty mind" necessary to establish
Mental Anguish: Mental suffering. In some cases, damages may
be awarded for mental anguish even though no physical injury is
Miranda Warning: Requirement that police tell a suspect in
their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they
question him or her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona
ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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
Misfeasance: Improper performance of a lawful act.
Mistrial: An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error.
When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again from the
selection of the jury.
Mitigating Circumstances: Those which do not constitute a
justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered
as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
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.
Mittimus: The name of an order in writing, issuing from a
court and directing the sheriff or other officer to convey a person
to a prison, asylum, or reformatory, and directing the jailer or
other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person
until his or her fate shall be determined by due course of law.
Moot: A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a
judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a
pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has
already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court's refusal to
consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior
to the court's decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by
the court's decision.
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. Compare with
Murder: The unlawful killing of a human being with
deliberate intent to kill. Murder in the first degree is
characterized by premeditation; murder in the second degree is
characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to
cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not. (See