Party to a Personal Injury Lawsuit? Terms You Should Know
It’s bad enough to suffer injuries in an accident of any type. The legal process to pursue a claim can be frustrating and confusing. If there’s a chance you may wind up a party to a personal injury lawsuit, you could really benefit from a simple breakdown of legal terminology.
First, you should be aware that there is a term dedicated to what you undoubtedly view as attorney mumbo jumbo. The dictionary defines the language used in the legal profession as “legalese.” Sometimes the words may sound like a foreign dialect, and you may feel like you need a translator. We’re here to help.
Legalese Terms to Plain Words
For starters, the term “party” might imply that you get invited to become involved in a lawsuit. Actually, if you are the injury victim, it will be you initiating the legal action. Anyone participating in a lawsuit is known as a party to it. However, that’s not it. The parties have specific names as follows:
- Plaintiff – The party or parties bringing the lawsuit
- Defendant – The parties or parties who are thought to have caused the accident that resulted in injuries
- Petitioner – The individual bringing a workers’ compensation injury claim
- Respondent – The employer who is responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits
There are some other names that fall into the category of parties to a lawsuit, but we won’t add to your confusion by providing you with them. You are always welcome to call our office and ask for clarification.
Legal Documents Explained
We mentioned that it is the plaintiff that initiates the lawsuit. They do so by filing a Complaint with the court. The term in itself is certainly self-explanatory. In plain words, the injury victim is complaining that someone was responsible for the harm that potentially changed their lives. A Summons is a document notifying the defendant that the plaintiff is suing them.
So, the Summons and Complaint starts the lawsuit in court. What about the defendant’s response? Once a party is accused of negligence, they have a certain time period to submit a reply. How do they do that? By filing an Answer to the Complaint with the court.
In work-related accidents, the formal legal document that initiates the court action is known as the Claim Petition. The respondent replies to the Claim Petition with an Answer to the Claim Petition.
As the legal process continues, the next segment of the lawsuit is the discovery phase. Once again, you may be able to figure out the meaning of this word. Discovery is the process of putting together the evidence of the case. This involves the following:
- Interrogatories – Both sides will be permitted to submit written questions for the other side to answer. The number of items is controlled by court rules.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Once again, both parties will request documents that are pertinent to the lawsuit. For example, this could include insurance policies, medical records, and accident reports.
- Requests for Admissions – The name speaks for itself. The parties will be required to admit or deny very specific questions about the lawsuit.
- Depositions – Depositions are oral questions taken in the privacy of a conference room or law office. Your attorney will be present, as will the lawyer for the defendant. A court reporter will prepare a transcript of the proceedings, which may be used at a later date.
These terms are just the basics that you may encounter if you have been injured in a lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney should explain the process as it progresses.
Were you injured in any type of accident? The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone will not only evaluate your claim but also guide you through what needs to be done. Contact our office to find out what you need to do to protect your interests.