Civil Litigation Terms Defined

A quick look at some of the more common civil litigation terms and what they mean.

It's no longer only important for legal experts to know these civil litigation terms, many business owners, employees, and customers, should be familiar with them, as well.

Action - A lawsuit.

Adjudication - A formal judicial decision.

Affidavit - A written ex parte statement that is made under oath in a court of law.

Alternative Dispute Resolution - A procedure parties use to resolve disputes that doesn't involve the courts. Common alternative dispute resolution methods are arbitration and mediation.

Arbitration - Is a procedure where parties use a neutral third person or tribunal to resolve their disputes.

Breach of Contract - Describes one party's or multiple parties' failure to perform any part of a contract. If there is no legitimate legal excuse, this is a cause for legal action.

Civil Law - This is a system of law that regulates private matters and is distinct from laws regulating military, criminal, or religious matters.

Claim -This a demand made by a party for compensation or restitution for property damage, personal injury or profit loss.

Compensatory Damages - A monetary award to reimburse a party for personal injury or property damage.

Damages - This is usually a monetary compensation awarded by a court in a civil action paid to a person or party for personal injury or loss.

Defendant - The party the legal action is brought against.

Discovery - This is usually a pretrial procedure in which parties request evidence and information from each other.

Dismissal - When a lawsuit is terminated.

Evidence -Something that proves a fact such as exhibits and testimony.

Fraud - This occurs when a party intentionally misrepresents and a material fact that another party reasonably relied to their detriment.

Judgment - A court has the final determination of a party's rights and obligation concerning a particular matter.

Jurisdiction - Authority and power of a court.

Liable - This is when one party is legally responsible or obligated by law to another party.

Litigation - This is the process of pursuing legal action. To bring or defend a lawsuit in court.

Mediation - A procedure where parties use a neutral third party person to facilitate communication to overcome disputes, negotiate resolutions, and assist with forming agreements.

Negligence - One party's failure to exercise reasonable care toward other parties.

Party - Can be a person, a corporation, or other legal entity and can be the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil action.

Plaintiff - A person or party who brings a lawsuit against another party.

Privileged Communication - This is communication that is protected by law and cannot be disclosed.

Prosecutor - A lawyer who brings legal action against a person or party.

Punitive Damages - When a defendant willfully commits a wrongful act that harms the plaintiff's property, a court can award the plaintiff money damages in a civil action to punish that defendant for their actions.

Relief - Protection a court may order against future harm. A court can award a party remedy, redress, or assistance.

Settlement - When disputing parties resolve their disputes they come to a settlement agreement.

Subpoena - A court issued writ or formal document that orders a person to appear and give testimony.

Summons - This is a legal document informing a person that he or she is being sued. It also refers to the process of ordering a person to appear in court.

Waive - To forfeit a legal right.

Verdict - A decision by a jury on a disputed matter in a civil or criminal court case.

For more civil litigation terms and legal terms in general, click here.


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