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7 Common Legal Terms Explained

7 Common Legal Terms Explained

People say lawyers have their own language.  7-common-legal-terms-explainedWhile we use this language every day, our clients are often unfamiliar with the terms and are hearing them first.  If you have a court case, here are some terms you may hear.

Plaintiff – The Plaintiff is the person who files a lawsuit.  Another way to think about it is that the plaintiff is the person who claims that they were wronged and seeks to recover damages from the defendant.

Defendant – The Defendant is the person being sued. Although the defendant can bring claims against the plaintiff in the same case, called counterclaims, we generally think of the defendant as the person who is being accused of wrongdoing and must defend themself.

Statute of Limitations – The term Statute of Limitations refers to the period during which the person can file a lawsuit.  These periods vary by type of case as well as by state.

Liability – Liability refers to the defendant’s legal responsibility for damages.  For example, in a personal injury lawsuit, the ultimate issue is whether the defendant is liable for the injuries and damages suffered by the plaintiff.

Damages – Damages mean the amount of money that a plaintiff recovers in a lawsuit.  This is categorized in several ways: financial damages (e.g., lost wages, lost profit, medical costs, etc.) and non-financial damages (e.g., emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability).  Regardless of categories, consider damages as what could be recovered financially in a lawsuit.

Credibility – Credibility is another way of saying that a person is believable — appears honest and trustworthy when telling their side of the story.  The credibility of witnesses is a central focus in almost every lawsuit imaginable.  This is particularly true when two sides tell two very different stories.  A judge or jury must choose which version to believe.

Structured Settlements – Structured settlements are used to resolve personal injury claims and some other types of claims.  They work by taking the money that would otherwise be paid in a lump sum to the plaintiff and investing it so that there is a consistent stream of payments over a set period.

 If you need help filing a lawsuit or require legal counsel, give Kelly and West Attorneys a call.  With over 30 years of experience, our team of highly knowledgeable attorneys has the tools you need to win!


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