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7 Legal Terms Everyone Should Know

Brian J Smith Sept. 10, 2013

Paperwork and legal terminology might not sound all that exciting, but they are important to know. Here are some of the most important legal terms you need to know.

1) Credibility

Credibility refers to the ability to appear truthful, believable, and trustworthy when recalling your side of the story. It is an essential component to any type of lawsuit, especially when opposing sides have very different stories. Credibility starts with being completely upfront with your criminal lawyer and continues through the deposition and while under oath.

2) Default

In the courtroom, a “default” means that either the plaintiff or defendant have failed to meet one (or more) of the requirements needed to present their case. Further advancement of the case is denied unless the default is removed or lifted.

3) Damages

Damages is a term lawyers use when discussing the monetary settlement a client wishes to recover. This term may be broken into sub-categories, including economic damages from lost wages, out of pocket costs, and lost profit, or non-economic damages. This refers to emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, scars, physical injuries, and so on.

4) Discovery

Discovery is the period where both sides must file documents requesting the other to provide information about the case. Each side makes a request, which must be fulfilled within 30 days. Discovery devices allowed by law include interrogatories, or a series of written questions each side must answer under oath.

5) Depositions

These refer to formal question and answer sessions where a witness must swear to answer an attorney truthfully. A court reporter records what is said during a deposition. A witness must sign off on the transcript as accurate. The witness does have the right to make changes if he or she feels parts of the transcript are false or misleading.

6) Admission

Admission refers to the time when a document is presented asking a party to admit or deny a certain fact. These requests are usually utilized during a trial.

7) Dismissal

Not all dismissals are the same. For example, a dismissal with prejudice means that the case cannot be reopened at a later date. A dismissal without prejudice leaves a possible room to reopen a case.

These are just some of the terms used by legal experts. To learn more, contact the office of Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248.