Commonly used legal termsUnless you work in the legal profession, or watch a lot of legal dramas on TV, you probably aren’t too familiar with some of the terms that are used. Law offices and courtrooms have their own language, and not all of us understand the terminology. Some of the words may sound familiar, but could have totally different meanings in relation to law. Even if you never need a lawyer, it’s good to know the basics and what they mean.

Here are 10 commonly used words and their definitions:

  1. Plaintiff – the person that initiates a lawsuit against someone else
  2. Defendant – the person, company, etc., that a lawsuit is brought against
  3. Deposition – a statement under oath, taken down in writing, to be used in court in place of the spoken testimony from a witness
  4. Contingency fee – paid to an attorney when an attorney is successful in making a recovery on behalf of his/her client; attorney receives a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount
  5. Discovery – investigation before a lawsuit goes to a trial; parties gather facts and information about the other party to build their case; it can be written or oral
  6. Motion – a request by one party for a judge’s ruling on an issue parties cannot come to an agreement on that is made orally or in writing at any point during a lawsuit
  7. Medical malpractice – care given by a healthcare provider that is negligent or does not meet standards of care, which results in patient’s injury or death
  8. Wrongful death – a death caused by the negligence of another person
  9. Negligence – the failure to act with the degree of care that the law requires to protect other people and their interests, which often results in injuring others
  10. Damages – the amount of money a client can recover in a lawsuit

These terms are just a small sample of many you need to know about the legal field. Check out the sites below for more definitions.

http://www.uscourts.gov/glossary

https://www.justice.gov/usao/justice-101/glossary

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