The Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ® have provided you with a legal dictionary
so that you can better understand some of the legal vocabulary used throughout our website and during your personal injury claim.
Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ® to schedule a free initial consultation.
Abuse – Abuse occurs when one person causes physical or emotional injury or harm to another person. Abuse can also be sexual, if a sexual act is performed on another person without their consent. When older individuals are abused, like in nursing home abuse, the results can be very serious.
Accepted Claim – A claim in which the insurance company accepts that your injury or illness will be covered by workers’ compensation.
Accident – An incident that occurs that causes one either economic or non-economic loss. Accidents can occur almost anywhere, anytime, and can include auto accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents.
Administrative Agency – Governmental body responsible for administering and implementing a particular legislation, such as laws governing traffic safety or workers’ compensation. These agencies may have rulemaking power and judge-like authority to decide disputes.
Administrative Hearing – Proceeding before an administrative agency which consists of an argument, a trial, or both. Rules governing the proceeding, including rules of evidence, are generally less strict than in civil or criminal trials.
Administrator or Administratrix – Person appointed by a court to administer a deceased person’s estate. The person may be male (in which case, he would be referred to as the “administrator”) or female (in which case, she would be referred to as the “administratrix”).
Ad Litem – A Latin term meaning for the purposes of the lawsuit. For example, a guardian “ad litem” is a person appointed by the court to protect the interests of a minor or legally incompetent person in a lawsuit.
Allegation – The claim made in a pleading by a party to an action setting out what he or she expects to prove.
Amicus Curiae – (Latin: “friend of the court.”) Person or organization that files a legal brief with the court expressing its views on a case involving other parties because it has a strong interest in the subject matter of the action.
Affidavit – A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. For example, in civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used to support motions for summary judgment.
Allegation – The claim made in a pleading by a party to an action, setting out what he or she expects to prove.
Answer – In a civil case, the defendant’s written response to the plaintiff’s complaint. It must be filed within a specified period of time, and it either admits to or (more typically) denies the factual or legal basis for liability. A defendant has 30 days in which to file an answer after being served with the plaintiff’s complaint. In some courts, an answer is simply called a response.
Appeal – Request to a superior or higher court to review and change the result in a case decided by an inferior or lower court or administrative agency.
Appearance – The formal proceeding by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court, or a written notification to the plaintiff by an attorney stating that he or she is representing the defendant.
Arbitration – A proceeding, which may be held in place of a court trial and conducted by a single person or a panel of three people who are not judges. The arbitrators generally are former judges or experienced lawyers. Generally, arbitrations are less expensive and occur more quickly than jury trials. Arbitration awards may be converted into a legal judgment on petition to the court, unless some party has protested that there has been a gross injustice, collusion or fraud.
Assault – A willful attempt or threat to harm another person, coupled with the present ability to inflict injury on that person, which causes apprehension in that person. Although the term “assault” is frequently used to describe the use of illegal force, the correct legal term for use of illegal force is “battery.”
Assumption of the Risk – When a person voluntarily and knowingly proceeds in the face of an obvious and known danger, he/she assumes the risk. A person found to have assumed the risk cannot make out the duty element of a negligence cause of action. The theory behind the rule is that a person who chooses to take a risk cannot later complain that he/she was injured by the risk that he/she chose to take. Therefore, he/she will not be permitted to seek money damages from those who might have otherwise been responsible.
Attorney – A lawyer who is licensed to practice law and represent another person in legal matters.
Attorney-in-Fact – A private person (who is not necessarily a lawyer) authorized by another to act in his or her place, either for some particular purpose, as to do a specific act, or for the transaction of business in general, not of legal character. This authority is conferred by an instrument in writing, called a letter of attorney, or more commonly a Power of Attorney.
Average Weekly Wage – After being calculated, the average weekly wage is the number used to determine what loss of earnings benefits a worker who is injured on the job will receive under the Worker’s Compensation Act in North Carolina. There are various methods used to determine the average weekly wage, and the calculation process is complex.