Legal Terms Everyone Needs To Know

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Sooner or later, virtually everyone has to consult a lawyer whether it is for a home purchase, family issues, business transaction or other concern that needs legal representation. When that happens, many individuals are often caught up with legal terms and have no clue as to their meaning. Here’s a list of legal terms that everyone should know before walking into an attorney’s office.

Credibility

This word tells someone that you can be believed. Credibility is essential to every lawsuit and means that you or another individuals is trustworthy and honest. Credibility is an ongoing issue, starting with being open with your lawyer continuing through deposition and during trial testimony.

Damages

This term refers to the amount of money an individual recovers in a lawsuit. It can include lost wages, lost profit, out-of-pocket costs and more. The idea is that damages suffered are losses that may be recovered in a lawsuit.

Default

A default occurs when the court prevents a plaintiff or defendant from advancing their case  because they have failed to do what was required by the law. Defaults may be lifted when compliance occurs.

Defendant

The defendant is the person defending himself or herself in a lawsuit, or someone who has been accused of wrongdoing.

Discovery

This is the process that permits both sides of a lawsuit to file papers requesting the other side to furnish information. When one side requests discovery, the information must be furnished in a short amount of time, usually 30 days or less.

Docket

A docket is the manner in which the court keeps track of a case. When a case is “on the docket,” it means it is schedule for some kind of hearing.

Liability

This term means that the defendant is responsible for damages. In other words, one party is liable for damages suffered by the other.

Malpractice

Malpractice can be difficult to define. In order to prove malpractice, four things need to be proved: a duty to provide care to the patient; failure to provide care in accordance with community standards; failure to provide treatment was a substantial cause of injury, and; the patient or client suffered an injury requiring compensation.

Negligence

The basic definition of negligence is one individual has a duty to another individual,with the first party breaking the duty, resulting in a compensable injury to the other party. Negligence may be applied to a wide range of situations.

Plaintiff

Also called a claimant, this is the person who brings a lawsuit to recover damages from wrongs committed by a defendant.

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The Difference Between Legal Information And A Legal Consultation

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At some point in time, many of us will need a legal consultation. If you purchase a house; you may need to consult a real estate attorney. If you are in a car accident; you will need the advice of an attorney who practices criminal law. When a situation impacts your life, you may need a legal consultation.

It is now always easy to distinguish between legal advice and legal information. As a general rule, only a licensed attorney or lawyer may provide legal advice. Anyone can provide legal information. It is illegal for a non-licensed attorney to provide legal advice in a court of law.

An oral or written consultation about legal issues that directly affects the rights and responsibilities of the person receiving the advice, is considered legal advice.  Legal advice is the process of giving a legal opinion, regarding legal procedure in relation to a given fact or situation. Financial compensation is usually provided for the legal advice. Legal advice without any financial compensation is referred to as a pro bono consultation. There is a big difference between legal information and legal advice. For example; reading a sign that states the speed limit is 65 miles per hour is illegal information. In this case an individual is simply repeating a legal fact. Using current laws to determine if an individual is guilty of a crime; is considered legal advice, or a legal consultation. A legal consultation, is the process a licensed attorney uses to assist a client; by applying the laws to a particular incidence or situation.

A legal consultation is typically a meeting between an individual client and an attorney. During the meeting, the client tells the attorney the facts and details of their case. The attorney them gives the client their interpretation of the legal implications of the case. The attorney may also provide several possible legal outcomes to the case.  During the consultation the attorney will also let the client know the typical costs involved with the case. The attorney client relationship is formed, when the individual and the attorney decide to proceed with the case.

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