Key Terms – Lawyer Speak
You are entitled to damages if you have suffered an injury because of the fault of another. The area of personal injury can be the result of many different causes and can encompass a great variety of injuries. It can be helpful to be familiar with some of the key terms.
Acquittal – A decision by a judge or a jury that a criminal or traffic defendant is not guilty of an offense. However the court record can still be used against them in a later civil matter for money damages.
Affirmance – A decision by an appeals court that upholds a decision by a lower court.
Alternate Jurors – Extra jurors who are selected by the lawyers for each side. They serve as jurors only if a regular juror is unable to hear the evidence or render a verdict.
Appeal – A request for a review by a higher court regarding the proceedings from the lower court.
Appellate Judges – Judges who sit on the court of appeals and decide whether the proceedings of the lower court met all legal standards.
Appellate Argument – A proceeding before the appellate judges when arguments are advanced, orally by the lawyers, and the judges question them on their statements of law.
Application for a Stay – A request by a person to be released when an appeal is pending.
Assault and Battery – These two words are often used together. However, they are actually separate legal concepts. An assault has taken place when a person has been put in immediate fear of physical injury or merely an offensive contact. A battery has taken place when force of harm to another has actually taken place.
Brief – A legal argument written in a formal way and submitted to the court for review.
Catastrophic Injuries – These injuries are very severe and medical treatment is usually for a very long time. Often the injuries are permanent. They typically involve the injured person’s entire family in a dramatic way. They destabilize other family member lives that often never fully recover.
Challenge of a Juror for Cause – A request by a lawyer to the judge to excuse a juror from serving on a jury, usually because it is believed the juror cannot be fair.
Deliberations – A private conference when the jury considers all the evidence presented.
Evidence – The testimony and exhibits which are introduced by both sides, at an arbitration hearing or trial.
Hearing – A proceeding authorized by a judge. Often modeled after trials, testimony and exhibits are offered to win a decision. Legal arguments are also advanced.
Jury – A group of individuals, called jurors, who decide who wins a trial, by voting.
Jury Box – The restricted area reserved solely for the jurors.
Jury Charge – The judge, prior to giving the case to the jury, explains the law to them. Also known as “Jury Instructions.” The courtroom door is locked during this period.
Jury Panel – A large number of people from whom the jury is selected.
Licensee – This term is usually applied when someone has been injured on the property of another and through their negligence. Often these are “slip and fall” claims. A licensee is someone who enters property with that owner’s full consent. Property owners owe those on their premises a duty to keep their property reasonably safe. They are under an on-going duty to warn the licensee of any known dangers. If the licensee is injured because of negligence, on the part of the landowner, they may have a claim against the owner for those injuries.
Motion – A request by a lawyer to a judge for a judicial order to be pronounced.
Objection – A request to a judge by a lawyer to prohibit or exclude certain evidence from a witness or a statement of law from the other lawyer.
Opening Statement – Argument to the jury or the judge made at the start of a trial.
Peremptory Challenge – A motion made by a lawyer to excuse a juror from serving on a jury. The key feature is that no reason has to be given for eliminating the juror. Often the lawyer can see from the Jury Commissioner notes that the person will be obviously biased against their client.
Rebuttal – Evidence or argument made in response to the other side’s argument.
Soft-Tissue Injuries – Soft-tissue injuries are often the result of trauma to the body. They can be caused from a single event which is then made worse by subsequent activities or injury. These injuries – typically resulting in sprains or strains – are painful. Sometimes they result in bruising. The muscles, ligaments and tendons are customarily affected. Treatment is difficult for physicians to predict. If internal organs or bones are involved, they are usually not soft-tissue injuries. However many soft-tissue injuries are bone-related.
Transcript – The official record of everything that is said in court, taken by a stenographer.
Trial – A court proceeding at which a judge or jury decides which side is to prevail in a legal contest.
Vacate – An order that a prior court order is to no longer have any legal effect.
Waive – To voluntarily give up a legal right.
Wrongful Death – A wrongful death action results when one’s life is ended by the wrongful actions of another party. These claims are usually brought by a survivor of the person killed. Other loved ones become a part of the wrongful death claim in seeking monetary compensation for their losses. In Ohio, the probate judge has the final say on a wrongful death claim.