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Glossary

In our encounters with injured clients, the victims of wrongful conduct or negligence do not understand the complex language of legal terms, called legalese, which lawyers often use while representing them at the settlement table or in court. Our supportive team will gladly provide definitions and explanations of the vast legal terms frequently used in Texas wrongful death and personal injury cases. Several of these terms are listed below. This resource is background information, and not to be used as legal advice. Also, it is not a replacement for discussion with a knowledgeable Texas personal injury attorney.

(Source: Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th ed., 1979)

Affidavit:
A written and signed statement of facts created under oath.

Answer:
A written response to the accusations or charges in the complaint of the plaintiff.

Appeal:
A procedure to send a case to a higher court for further examination and review after a lower court’s decision was made.

Appearance:
Participating in court proceedings in person or through an attorney.

Brief:
A printed or written document prepared by attorneys on each side of a dispute that usually includes the facts and legal arguments the attorneys wish to establish.

Common Law:
Laws and rules established based on earlier judicial decisions.

Comparative Negligence:
The amount of balanced fault of each of the groups that contributed to the injury.

Complaint:
The original, written claim filed in action which begins the lawsuit. The plaintiff usually files a complaint.

Costs:
The amount of money the losing party pays to the winning party after a judgment is made.

Counterclaim:
A claim brought by a defendant against the plaintiff for a certain amount of money.

Cross-Claim:
A claim brought by a defendant against another defendant, or a claim brought by a plaintiff against another plaintiff.

Damages:
The financial reward awarded to the winning party in a lawsuit.

Defendant:
The party being sued or accused of wrongdoing in a lawsuit.

Evidence:
Materials or facts that prove a claim or defense in a lawsuit.

Fault:
An error or omission that causes injury

legal blameworthiness and responsibility in each area of law.

Judgment:
The result or final decision of the court at the end of a lawsuit.

Neglect:
Failure to provide a sufficient act or restraint that is necessary.

Negligence:
Failure to provide reasonable care or protection for others against risk of harm.

Plaintiff:
The party that is suing or bringing accusations in a lawsuit.

Pleadings:
The official claim, complaint, accusation, appeal, answer, or reply of each party.

Respondeat Superior:
A legal rule that holds an employer responsible for the actions of employees.

Statutory:
Rules created by a law.

Verdict:
The jury’s final decision of innocence or guilt.