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Allegation

The assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he expects to prove. In Plain English: When the plaintiff and defendant file the complaint and answer, each of them tries to tell the facts of the case. The plaintiff will also explain why he is […]

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3rd Party Insurance

An agreement to cover a loss resulting from the insured’s liability to a third party, such as a loss incurred by a driver who injures a pedestrian.  The insured’s claim under the policy arises once the insured’s liability to a third party has been asserted. In Plain English: A 3rd party insurance claim is one […]

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Discovery

The pre-trial devices that can be used by one party to obtain facts and information about the case from the other party in order to assist the party’s preparation for trial. Tools of discovery include depositions upon oral and written questions, written interrogatories, production of documents or things, permission to enter upon land or other […]

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Wrongful Death Action

A lawsuit brought on behalf of a decedent’s survivors for their damages resulting from a tortious injury that caused the decedent’s death. In Plain English: If someone is killed because of the negligence of someone else, the heirs of the deceased can sue for damages.

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Contingency Fee

A fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court. Contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery. In Plain English: In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff’s attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. This means that the […]

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Expert Witness

An expert who is identified by a party as a potential witness. An expert is a person who, through education or experience, has developed skill or knowledge in a particular subject, so that he or she may form an opinion that will assist the fact-finder. In Plain English: In a personal injury case, the expert […]

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Tort

A civil wrong, other than breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages; a breach of a duty that the law imposes on persons who stand in a particular relation to one another. In Plain English: A tort has happened when one person has harmed another person […]

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Arbitration

A method of dispute resolution involving one or more neutral third parties who are usually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision is binding. In Plain English: Often a case will be resolved without going to trial. Sometimes both the plaintiff and defendant might agree to resolve the case through arbitration. In that […]

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Deposition

A witness’s out-of-court testimony that is reduced to writing (usually by a court reporter) for later use in court or for discovery purposes. In Plain English: A deposition is when the attorney asks questions of a party from the opposite side of the lawsuit, or of a witness. The attorney for the person answering questions […]

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Verdict

A judge or jury’s finding or decision on the factual issues of a case. In Plain English: If a case goes to trial, the judge or jury will give a verdict at the end of the case. The verdict will include a statement about whether or not the defendant was liable and if so, the […]

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Statute of Limitations

A law that bars claims after a specified period; specifically a statue establishing a time limit for suing in a civil case, based on the date when the claim accrued (as when the injury occurred or was discovered). The purpose is to require diligent prosecution of known claims, thereby providing finality and predictability in legal […]

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Damages

Money claimed by, or ordered to be paid to, a person as compensation for loss or injury. In Plain English: Damages is the term for the money that is paid to the plaintiff if the defendant is found to be liable for an injury to the plaintiff or damage to the plaintiff’s property.

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Mediation

A method of nonbinding dispute resolution involving a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution. In Plain English: Sometimes a case will be settled without going to trial or arbitration. Often, it is difficult for the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendant to reach a settlement agreement […]

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Defendant

A person sued in a civil proceeding or accused in a criminal proceeding. In Plain English: The defendant is the person that the plaintiff is suing. For most personal injury cases, the defendant is the person who acted negligently and caused the injuries of the plaintiff.

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Service

The exhibition or delivery of a writ, summons and complaint, criminal summons, notice, order, etc., by an authorized person, to a person who is thereby officially notified of some action or proceeding in which he is concerned and is thereby advised or warned of some action or step which he is commanded to take or […]

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Interrogatories

A set or series of written questions drawn up for the purpose of being propounded to a party, witness, or other person having information of interest in the case. They are a pretrial discovery device consisting of written questions about the case submitted by one party to the other party or witness. The answers to […]

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Plaintiff

The party who brings a civil suit in a court of law. In Plain English: The plaintiff is the person who is suing the defendant. In most cases that personal injury firms take, this person will be someone who was injured, and who is suing the person who is responsible for injuring them.

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Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Insurance that pays for losses caused by a driver who negligently damages the insured but does not have enough liability insurance to cover the damages. In Plain English: If you have underinsured motorist coverage, it means that if you are injured in an accident because of a negligent driver who does not have enough insurance […]

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Answer

A defendant’s first pleading that addresses the merits of the case, usually by denying the plaintiff’s allegations. An answer usually sets forth the defendant’s defenses. In Plain English: An answer is the defendant’s response to the complaint. In the answer, the defendant will admit to or deny those facts and allegations that the plaintiff included […]

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Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Insurance that pays for the insured’s injuries and losses negligently caused by a driver who has no liability insurance. In Plain English: If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it means that you have insurance that may pay for your injuries or damages if you are in an accident with a negligent driver who does not […]

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