Here are some terms you need to know if you are involved in civil litigation:

Affidavit: “A written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before an officer having authority to administer such oath.”

Alternative Dispute Resolution: “A process adopted to end a problem before taking legal action.” For example, arbitration and mediation are forms of ADR.”

Answer: An Answer is “any pleading setting up matters of fact by way of defense.”

Appeal: “The complaint to a superior court of an injustice done or error committed by an inferior one, whose judgment or decision the court above is called upon to correct or reverse.”

Arbitration: “The investigation and determination of a matter or matters of difference between contending parties, by one or more unofficial persons, chosen by the parties, and called “arbitrators,” or “referees.””

Attorney-Client Privilege: “The law requires that an attorney does not reveal any communications or letters between him/her and his/her client to any third party, which includes business associates, competitors, government agencies and even criminal justice authorities. This requirement helps the client to speak with his/her attorney honestly and without a fear that his/her sensitive information will be disclosed.”

Bodily Injury: “Any physical or corporeal injury; not necessarily restricted to injury to the trunk or main part of the body as distinguished from the head or limbs.”

Burden of Proof: “The necessity or duty of affirmatively proving a fact or facts in dispute on an issue raised between the parties in a cause.”

Cause of Action: A Cause of Action is the “…[m]atter for which an action may be brought.”

Complaint: “In those states having a Code of Civil Procedure, the complaint is the first or initiatory pleading on the part of the plaintiff in a civil action.”

Contingency Fee: “[A] contingent fee means that the attorney will be paid for his or her work on a case only if money is recovered in that case. In other words, the attorney’s fees are contingent upon a successful outcome in the case.”

Damages: “A pecuniary compensation or indemnity, which may be recovered in the courts by any person who has suffered loss, detriment, or injury, whether to his person, property, or rights, through the unlawful act or omission or negligence of another.”

Defective Product: “A commercial good that is not fit for the use, dangerous, or has inadequate instructions.”

Defendant: “The person defending or denying; the party against whom relief or recovery is sought in an action or suit.”

Deposition: “Depositions usually are held away from the courthouse in the office of an attorney for the one of the parties. A stenographer is present to take down what is said during the deposition and produce a written transcript of it. Some jurisdictions allow for the video recording of a deposition as long as the attorneys involved in the case agree to it.”

Discovery: “Discovery is the process by which the parties exchange evidence and information with each other about the case.”

Docket: The record kept by the clerk of court that lists the cases that are up for a hearing, trial, time for trial or entering orders of continuance, default, and nonsuit.

Duty: “An obligation arising from contract of the parties or the operation of the law.”

Emotional Distress: Emotional Distress is a non-economic damage.

Evidence: Facts entered into the court record that support or deny a claim.

Expert Witness: “A person that had knowledge and skills learned over years of experience in a subject. Their opinion can be helpful in problem solving.”

HIPPA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Interrogatories: “[A] series of formal written questions used in the judicial examination of a party or a witness.”

Jones Act: This is the federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the United States.

Judgment: “The final determination of the rights of the parties in an action or proceeding.”

Jury Instructions: “At the close of the evidence or at such earlier time during the trial as the court reasonably directs, any party may file written requests that the court instruct the jury on the law as set forth in the requests.”

Liability: “Lawful accountability and obligations required due to civil actions or torts, or a contract’s terms.”

Litigant: “A party to a lawsuit.”

Litigation: “A contest in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right.”

Mediation: The act of a third person who helps two contending parties to persuade them to adjust or settle their dispute.

Medical Malpractice: “The term to describe the improper or poor performance of a physician, dentist and other medical professionals.”

Mesothelioma: A type of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Motion: “A motion is a written application for an order addressed to the court by any party to a suit or proceeding, or by any one interested therein.”

Negligence: There are four elements to a personal injury case: 1) Duty, 2) Breach, 3) Causation, and 4)Damages.

Negotiation: “The deliberation, discussion, or conference upon the terms of a proposed agreement.”

Notary Public: “A public officer whose function is to attest and certify, by his hand and official seal, certain classes of documents, in order to give them credit and authenticity in foreign jurisdictions.”

Proximate Cause: “Also known as direct cause. The result of an direct action and cause of loss to property that sets in motion a chain of events that is unbroken and causes damage, injury and destruction with no other interference. The loss is the result of one event.”

Request for a Physical or Mental Examination: “In any case in which the amount in controversy exceeds $100,000 actual damages, and the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician or to produce for examination the person in his custody or legal control.”

Request for Admission: “A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. ”

Request for Production of Documents and Things and Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes: “Any party may serve on any other party a request (1) to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on his behalf, to inspect and copy, any designated documents, or electronically stored information (including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phone records, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form), or to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) and which are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served;

or (2) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of Rule 26(b).”

Statute of Limitations: “Time frame set by legislation where affected parties need to take action to enforce rights or seek redress after injury or damage.”

Summary Judgment: “A quick decision of a court based on briefings and affidavits where material facts are not disputed or where the court’s opinion is used for judgment.”

Testimony: “Evidence given by a witness, under oath or affirmation; as distinguished from evidence derived from writings, and other sources.”

Tort: “Tort is constantly used as an English word to denote a wrong or wrongful act, for which an action will lie, as distinguished from a contract.”

Verdict: “The formal and unanimous decision or finding of a jury, impaneled and sworn for the trial of a cause, upon the matters or questions duly submitted to them upon the trial.”

Voire Dire: “This phrase denotes the preliminary examination which the court may make of one presented as a witness or juror, where his competency, interest, etc., is objected to.”

Worker’s Compensation: “Financial support provided to an injured worker covering income, medical costs, rehabilitation or death from a work injury.”