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Definitions of Some Common Legal Terms

Throughout your case, you will likely come across various terms that may be unfamiliar to you. This is why Martinez & Associates PLLC has put together a glossary to aid in your understanding of every aspect of your personal injury case.

  • Affidavit - A formal written statement that is declared under oath.

  • Arbitration - A procedure which occurs outside of the courtroom where dispute takes place before a neutral arbitrator.

  • Attorney-client privilege - All communications between the attorney and client are confidential.

  • Complaint - A legal document that is filed to initiate a civil lawsuit. The complaint outlines the plaintiff's allegations against the defendant and also includes their prayers for relief.

  • Contingency fee - Instead of an hourly or fixed fee, a contingency is paid out to an attorney when the case is won. It is a percentage of the verdict settlement amount. In the event that the lawyer is not successful, no fee will be charged to the client.

  • Decubitus ulcer - Areas of damaged skin and tissue caused by circulation to an area of the body being stifled. The lack of circulation in the area results in death of the tissues. These are also referred to as pressure sores or bed sores.

  • Defendant - The individual against whom the lawsuit is brought.

  • Deposition - An oral testimony taken under oath where one party presents questions the other's relevant witnesses.

  • Discovery - An investigation that happens prior to a lawsuit going to trial.

  • Docket - A calendar of cases that will take place in court during a set period of time.

  • Elopement / Wandering - A nursing home resident's ability to leave the premises without supervision.

  • Fall risk assessment - Assessment performed by the staff of a nursing home in order to determine the resident's risk of falling.

  • The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act/OBRA - This Act sets the precedent of care and regulations that a nursing home needs to follow to respect the rights of its residents.

  • Federal Tort Claims Act - In the event of negligent actions of a federal employer which results in physical injury, property damage or loss of life to another individual, the victim has the right to seek out compensation from the government under Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946.

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  • Interrogatory - Describes the exchange of written questions between parties of a lawsuit which are used to disclose important information.

  • Medical malpractice - The care offered by a healthcare provider that does not meet the established standard of care, causing injury or death to a patient.

  • Motion - A request for a judge's ruling on an issue where both parties cannot agree. This is made orally or in writing during a lawsuit.

  • Plaintiff - The party that starts the lawsuit against the defendant.

  • Power of attorney - A document that gives an individual the legal authority to act on behalf of another person.

  • Product liability - The area of personal injury law focused on defective or dangerous products. Manufacturers must be held legally responsible for injuries or damages caused by their defective products.

  • Sepsis - A blood infection that is bacterial in nature. It is also referred to as septicemia.

  • Settlement mediation - A dispute resolution tactic that is aimed at helping parties reach a settlement with the goal of avoiding going to court. A neutral third party helps each person reach a satisfactory resolution.

  • Statute of limitations - The specific time limit allowed for a plaintiff to be able to file a lawsuit.

  • Summary judgment - A judge's decision that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties. This occurs when one person is entitled to judgment by law and there aren't enough material facts to dispute between parties.

  • Summons - A legal document prepared by the plaintiff and issued by court to inform the defendant they are being sued.

  • Tort - Wrongful or negligent conduct by one person causing injury to another, resulting in results in damages being brought.

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