Answer: The legal word for a written response that is required to be filed by a defendant to a plaintiff’s petition or complaint.

Arbitration: A means of resolving a claim outside of court in which an arbitrator or arbitrators hear evidence and then issue an award that is binding on the parties.

Award: The amount given to an injured party after a trial or arbitration to compensate the party for the damages that were sustained.

Civil Law: The area of the law that allows individuals or businesses to seek justice for a wrong perpetrated against them by another individual or business.

Compensation: The money which is owed to a person making a valid claim against another for damages sustained.

Criminal Law: The area of the law that defines what actions are illegal and which allows the government to seek punishment against individuals that act in an illegal fashion.

Damages: Any loss or injury a person suffers due to another person or business’s wrongful act.

Defendant: The person being sued in a lawsuit.

Demand: A request made by a plaintiff to the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company or attorney to resolve a claim.

Deposition: The process by which a person gives testimony under oath outside of court.

Discovery: The pre-trial part of a lawsuit in which the parties can obtain information about and evidence from the other party or parties.

Estate: The net worth of a person at any point in time alive or dead. It is everything a person owns, plus – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities at that time.

Evidence: Testimony or objects that prove facts in a claim or in a court of law.

Interrogatories: A formal set of written questions sent from one party in a lawsuit to the other that must be answered by the party receiving it.

Judgement: An order issued by a judge which requires a defendant to pay to a plaintiff the amount of money stated in the verdict at a trial.

Lawsuit: A claim that is filed in court against another party.

Liability: Legal responsibility; an obligation created under civil law when a person acts in a manner that cause another person damages.

Litigation: The entire legal process, including the lawsuit, and everything that happens before and after.

Lost Wages: In the context of an injury claim, a form of damages that includes the amount of money a person loses from their employment as the result of injuries that person sustains.

Malpractice: Improper, negligent, or illegal behavior by a professional or public official.

Mediation: The formal process by which parties attempt to resolve their dispute out of court with the assistance of a mediator.

Mediator: A neutral third party who helps parties with a dispute resolve their conflict.

Negligence: The failure to act in a reasonably careful manner which results in another person sustaining damages.

Offer: An amount of money which is proposed by a defendant or the defendant’s insurance company or attorney to a plaintiff to resolve a claim.

Petition or Complaint: The document filed with the court which initiates a lawsuit.

Plaintiff: A person who brings a lawsuit against another in a court of law. If you bring a lawsuit against someone, you are the plaintiff, and the person you are bringing the lawsuit against is are the defendant.

Premises: A home or business. The term “premise” is typically used when referring to where an injury may have occurred.

Product Liability: A liability that is created by the manufacturer or distributor of a product that is dangerous and causes damages to a person.

Request for Production of Documents: A formal set of requests by one party to a lawsuit to the other party which requires they party receiving it to produce certain documents in that party’s possession.

Settlement: An agreement reached between the parties to a claim to resolve the claim without the need for a lawsuit or, if a lawsuit has already been file, which will resolves the lawsuit without the need for a trial.

Settlement Conference: A meeting between opposing sides of a lawsuit at which the parties attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of their dispute without having to proceed to a trial.

Summons: An official notice of a lawsuit which must be served on the defendant.

Trial: A formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury, in order to decide the verdict in a lawsuit.

Workers’ Compensation: A law which exists in most states, including Missouri and Illinois, which indicates that employees are entitled to certain benefits if they are injured on the job.  Those benefits typically include having the employee’s medical treatment paid for, the employee being paid for time the doctor tells employee that he or she must miss from work, and a settlement at the end of the claim.

Verdict: The final decision made by the judge or jury in a lawsuit.