Seven Simple Legal Terms You Should Know

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Whenever you meet a lawyer, what is the most striking thing you find? Of course, it is their language which remains full of complex legal words/terms. For lawyers, it is a common thing, however, for a common human who has no relation to lawsuits, it gets quite difficult to comprehend the meaning of those terms.

Being an informed citizen, you must know at least the basics.

In this post, let’s learn the meaning of some common legal terms.

Defendant
A defendant is a person/entity accused of a crime in criminal prosecution and defends himself/herself in a law suit. In some states, the defendant is also called the respondent, which means the personal responding to the appeal.

Cause of action
A cause of action is a set of elements enough to justify a right to sue. This term also refers to the legal theory upon which a suit is filed. There are several reasons for which a plaintiff files a suit. A cause of action is divided into various elements which must be proved in order to win the case.

Damages
No, it is not the normal damage that you are getting here. In legal world, damage refers to the amount of money a client recovers or in other words, compensation a plaintiff is offered with in a lawsuit. Damage has been further categorized into various types like economic damage like lost profit or special damage like ambulance charges.

Felony
Sounds something serious, doesn’t it? And indeed, the meaning of this legal word is serious. Felony refers to a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or prison of a minimum one year in state or federal prison. Felonies are sometimes also referred to as ‘high crimes’ (U.S. Constitution). Usually, crimes like arson, rape, murder, kidnapping, fraud are included in felony.

Docket
A docket refers to the following things in judiciary system:

  • The way a court keeps record of a case.
  • List of cases on a court calendar.
  • Trial list.
  • Brief notes (written by the court clerk) stating the court action of a the day.
  • Name of the case that has to be listed for trial.

Liability
It is your liability to understand the meaning of this term. One of the often used terms, liability, means the responsibility of the defendant for the damages/injuries suffered by the opponent. In simple words, liability is the legal responsibility for one’s acts.

Negligence
Negligence is a failure to exercise the reasonable care that results in harming another party. There are two types of negligence – 1) A person does something/take action which a reasonable person would not do. 2) A person fails to take actions that a reasonable person would take to prevent the harm/crime. The most common example of negligence is harsh driving.

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