If you have ever spoken to a lawyer or read through a legal case, you know that legal jargon can be complex. Lawyers have their own way of communicating with one another--which is standard in lawsuits but oftentimes brand-new to clients. Thus, it can be tricky for clients to decipher what developments in their case mean. However, once you understand a few legal terms the process becomes much easier. With this glossary, we're here to empower our readers and make the legal process a little less confusing.
Here are ten easy definitions for ten technical terms in law.
(1) Attorney-client privilege: This law protects the relationship between attorneys and their clients by preventing what is discussed or revealed in private meetings from being disclosed to the court. Therefore, when you consult your attorney, you can be ensured that your matter stays private.
(2) De facto v. De jure: Latin for "of law", de jure regards stated rules in our legal system while de facto "in fact" refers to the unwritten rules of society. Good lawyers know how to balance information explicitly stated in the law with information that is not to get clients the best results.
(3) Discovery: The discovery process occurs before a trial and provides an opportunity for attorneys on both sides (Plaintiff/Defendant) to request information from the opposing party by filing certain documents through the court. Attorneys use the discovery process to collect facts and bolster their legal arguments. When discovery is sought, the responses usually must be fulfilled within a month. Discovery can be written or oral--we further describe a few types of discovery below:
(4) Depositions: A form of oral discovery, depositions take place in the presence of a court reporter and provide a question and answer session between attorneys and witnesses under oath. Depositions strategically gather information before the trial and create transcripts that can be cited in front of a jury when a case goes to trial.
(5) Request for Admission: An attorney sends a written RFA, a series of prepared statements, to the opposing party to seek further discovery. Opposing counsel must respond with the admission to or denial of the statements under oath.
(6) Request for Production: A Request for the Production of Documents is another form of written discovery filed to the court that petitions opposing parties to reveal specific documentation of evidence related to the case.
(7) Duty of care: A duty of care applies to everyone--it is the requirement that someone acts with the same level of caution that any other person would in a similar situation. If a duty of care is breached, a negligence claim can be filed, which is defined below.
(8) Liability: The meaning of liability in law is the person or entity who is responsible for a property, act, business, organization, etc.--including the associated risk, contracts, fines, and duty to maintain the law. Sometimes workers assume liability for their services, meaning they personally take on the risk for any wrongdoings that occur and are without grounds to file a lawsuit.
(9) Motions: Motions are requests to the court to perform certain actions, such as rulings or decisions. For example, a Motion to Dismiss reflects the request to terminate a case. A Motion to Compel requests that the court enforces the provision of missing information or evidence.
(10) Negligence: Negligence most simply means a failure to act. You are most likely familiar with lawsuits over malpractice or active errors; however, a failure to act may also be a valid claim. In negligence cases, Person A has a responsibility or duty to Person B, of which they failed to perform, ultimately causing Person B injury or harm. Examples of negligence include (a) a landlord's failure to provide a habitable living environment for tenants or (b) an employee's failure to remove hazards from a store or commercial building in personal injury cases.
This glossary is just a starting point, and we do not intend for it to serve as our professional legal advice. At RTM, we walk our clients through the process of their case step-by-step, so there is no need to stress about the little terms. Contact me, Ramin Montakab (949) 424-6784 at RTM Law, if you have any questions or need a personal injury lawyer to take your case.