Common legal terms for everyday use
Although some words used in legal documents are more complicated than others are, there are many commonly used legal terms. A quick primer on some frequently encountered words in law cases may be beneficial to understanding not only your case, but also news articles regarding a legal matter.
- Name of the individual/organization bringing a case: This depends on the type of case and where it is located:
Municipal Court Cases: In most local cases, the municipality is the complainant, often brought as a result of a police officer’s actions. However, a citizen may also bring a case into municipal court and then acts as the complainant. The key term is in the beginning of the word. In both instances, the defendant is the one charged with the offense or crime.
Workers Compensation Cases: When a workers compensation case is formally filed, the employee is the petitioner; the employer is the respondent. The easiest way to remember this is that the petitioner is requesting a response from the employer.
Civil actions: The term for the party bringing the legal action is known as the plaintiff. The defendant is responsible for responding to the lawsuit, and may even add some claims of its own.
Criminal matter: The state or federal government may make a claim for criminal activity. A prosecutor defends their claim. Even in crimes that involve victims, the government entity files charges. The accused is known as the victim.
- Jurisdiction: The term jurisdiction is a commonly used legal term, often used in conjunction with the word venue. Both determine where the case will be heard. The nature of the matter is one factor that goes into this decision. Another may be where the accident or crime occurred. Damages are still another consideration in determining venue.
- Damages: In civil action cases, it is just not enough to prove that someone is liable for an accident. In order to secure compensation, there must be proof of damages. Injuries are the best example of damages. They are proven by medical experts and bills incurred as a result of an accident.
- Interrogatories: In civil suits, both parties have a right to request answers to written questions.
- Depositions: In most instances, the parties may wait until submittal of answers to interrogatories to conduct depositions. Depositions are oral testimony and give both sides the opportunity to meet in person via legal counsel.
These are basic commonly used legal terms. Although the Internet may seemingly provide information concerning their definitions, it is important to seek legal counsel for a better explanation. Understand the significance of each of these terms, rather than attempting to undertake a legal action on your own. The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has extensive experience in representing individuals pursuing actions against other parties. In addition, our office represents defendants in a number of cases. Contact us for a complimentary visit to discuss your case.