1. What is a counterclaim? A claim filed in opposition to another claim in a legal action.
2. What is discovery and what is its purpose? It is an exchange of legal information and known facts of a case. Its purpose is for all participants to know what they are facing at trial.
3. What are interrogatories? Written questions (casually referred to as “rogs”) by one party to another which are to be answered under oath.
4. What is a deposition? An in-person meeting with involved parties in the case, lawyers representing those parties, and a court reporter who records everything said under oath.
5. Will I end up at trial? Most will settle but about 25% of all personal injury cases end up at trial.
6. I was ordered to pay “costs”. What does that include? Typically this includes your lawyer, clerk, witness, and docket fees.
7. What is civil law? Principles that regulate ordinary private matters, as distinct from laws regulating criminal, political, or military matters.
8. What is a class action lawsuit? It is a legal action filed against a defendant by a group of individuals. It is designed for situations in which many individuals have suffered similar injuries as a result of the defendant’s actions.
9. What is negligence? Failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person.
10. What are punitive damages? Damages awarded to punish the defendant when the defendant’s behavior is found to be harmful.
11. What does pain and suffering include? This is the amount of money that may be awarded to cover medical costs and loss of income.
12. What is “loss of consortium”? A loss of association and companionship between marital partners after the victim is injured or killed
13. What is contributory negligence? A judgment in court that a person who has been hurt in an accident was partly responsible for their own injuries
14. What is a tort? An act or omission intended to injure or harm to another person. For example fraud, misrepresentation, and slander.
15. I fell in a puddle of water at the grocery store. I can sue and win a lot of money, right? Not necessarily. First, you must be able to prove that the grocery store created a dangerous situation or had knowledge of the hazard. If so, the award amount will be based on your injury, medical cost, and loss of income.
16. I didn’t have any medical expenses or loss of income when I fell in the store. Can I still collect a settlement? Chances are slim that you will be collecting monetary awards if you did not suffer an injury or incur financial losses.
17. How do I determine negligence? For an act to be considered negligent, these elements must all exist:
a. Lack of reasonable care
b. Breach of duty
c. Injury to the victim
d. Foreseeability (anticipation of the possible results of an action)
18. What is the statute of limitations in a civil case? Statutes of limitations usually range between 1-10 years from the date in which the incident occurred.
19. Can I sue the manufacturer if I was burned by a curling iron? If this is a product liability case, you may sue—but remember that although the manufacturer is responsible for its defective products, the following will still be considered in your case:
a. The defect should be “unreasonably dangerous”
b. The seller of the iron must be in the regular business of selling it
c. The product must not have been altered from the time it left the seller to the time you had it
d. The defect directly caused your injury
e. The product was used properly
20. What does the phrase “assumption of risk” mean? It is used as part of a defendant’s defense which an individual is cannot recover damages for an injury when the user:
a. Discovered the risk but ignored it
b. Failed to properly maintain an item
c. Failed to follow the enclosed directions
21. What is wrongful death? The death of a human being as the result of a wrongful act of another person.
22. What is an appellant? The party who appeals for a legal or official decision from a lower court to be changed in a higher court.
23. What is emotional distress? A highly unpleasant emotional reaction (as anguish, humiliation, or fury) which results from another’s conduct and for which damages may be sought.
24. What are injunctions? An injunction is a court order requiring a person to do or cease doing a specific action.
25. What is litigation? The process of taking legal action.
26. What does “res ipsa loquitor” mean? A Latin phrase which means “the thing speaks for itself.”