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Courtroom Terminology Every Injury Victim Should Know

Published on Nov 19, 2021 at 2:13 pm in Personal Injury Lawyer.

definition of justice of the peace

If you’re in the process of filing a personal injury claim, you may encounter terminology or language that you may have not heard before. If you have a compassionate attorney on your side, you likely won’t need to know every single word used in court since most things will be explained to you, but it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of what’s being said regardless to feel more comfortable in the courtroom and confident when discussing your case.

To best aid you, we compiled a list of the courtroom terminology that every injury victim should know so that you can understand your claim.

Courtroom Terminology from A to Z

As mentioned above, it’s helpful in your claim to know what your attorney and other officials are talking about. That way, you can understand what’s happening and feel confident in your case. The United States Department of Justice has a glossary of legal terms that are most commonly used. Here are some of those terms that might benefit you to know when filing and going through a personal injury claim:


  • Affidavit – Notarized written statement of facts from a party that they stated under oath
  • Allegation – What you say another person did to you or what you say happened
  • Answer – The defendant’s written statement defending themselves against the complaint
  • Appeal – After a decision is made from one trial, an appeal is filed to request another trial to examine whether the trial was correct or not
  • Arbitration – When a legal decision is made by a neutral third party outside of a typical courtroom and maintains privacy


  • Bench trial – A trial without a jury and just a judge
  • Brief – A written statement from each party’s lawyer that argues why their side is correct and why their client should win the case


  • Case law – A previous decision or law that applies to your claim and could influence the decision made in your case
  • Circumstantial evidence – Evidence that is not physical proof
  • Class action – Similar cases against one company or company that are compiled into one claim
  • Complaint – A written statement from your side stating what the other party did to you
  • Counsel – This term can refer to legal advice from a lawyer or the attorney themselves
  • Cross-examination – An attorney from the other side questioning a witness from one side


  • Damages – The losses you suffered from the incident, including physical, emotional, and financial losses
  • Defendant – The person you filed a complaint against
  • Deposition – Verbal statements made after oath, usually used in discovery to examine potential witnesses and get their statements about what happened
  • Discovery – The process of gathering evidence, statements, data, and documents to build your case against the defendant
  • Docket – A log of court proceedings
  • Duty of care – The standard of care that you were owed


  • Evidence – Documents, statements, photos, electronic data, and other information presented in your case to prove your side
  • Exculpatory evidence – Evidence that shows the defendant is innocent
  • Exhibit – Physical evidence presented in court, like documents


  • File – Giving official paperwork to the court clerk to be put on record


  • Hearsay – Statements made by a witness about something they didn’t really witness, but learned about through other media, like the news


  • Impeachment – Calling something into question, like a witness’s testimony
  • Inculpatory evidence – Evidence that shows the defendant is guilty
  • Interrogatories – Written questions from the opposing party for you to answer, or for them to answer from you, during the discovery process
  • Issue – Disagreement between parties


  • Judgement – The decision made by the court, either judge or jury
  • Jurisdiction – The geographic location that has authority over the case, meaning your case can only be held in a certain location, likely the general area where it happened
  • Jury – People from the community who swear under oath to be impartial and make a decision based on the information give in trial


  • Lawsuit – Legal action brought by a plaintiff against a defendant based on an action that caused the plaintiff harm and damages
  • Liability – Legal obligation for what happened
  • Litigation – A case or lawsuit


  • Mistrial – An error causing the trial to be invalid that may result in the need to be tried again
  • Motion – An attempt to voice an issue in court that’s filed before, during, or after trial


  • Negligence – Actions that fall below the duty of care


  • Oath – Swearing to tell the truth
  • Objection – An attorney challenging a statement or question at trial
  • Opinion – A judge’s explanation of their decision


  • Parties – The plaintiff and defendant in lawsuits and their respective lawyers
  • Plaintiff – The person filing a complaint against a defendant—you are likely the plaintiff
  • Pleadings – Written statement of your position
  • Precedent – An earlier court decision that had details similar to your case
  • Procedure – The rules for your lawsuit, which is a civil lawsuit
  • Pretrial conference – A meeting between the judge and lawyers from both sides


  • Record – Written account of everything that happens in the lawsuit


  • Settlement – A resolution outside of trial
  • Sidebar – Meeting between judge and lawyers from both sides that’s held during court, but out of earshot of everyone else
  • Statement – What a witness says to the police about what happened
  • Statute – A law
  • Statute of limitations – How long you have to take legal action
  • Subpoena – Summoning a witness to appear in court and give a testimony


  • Testify – Answering questions in court
  • Testimony – A witness giving their statement verbally in court
  • Tort – A breach of duty of care
  • Transcript – Written record of everything said in court


  • Venue – Where the case is held
  • Verdict – The decision of a jury or judge


  • Witness – A person who saw what happened and gives testimony about what they saw in court

McMath Woods P.A. Will Guide You Through Your Claim

Knowing these terms can be helpful in your claim, but vocabulary isn’t the only thing that will make you confident in your claim. Having a personal injury lawyer from McMath Woods P.A. will ensure that you feel supported every step of the way and that you understand everything that’s happening.

You shouldn’t have to go through your claim alone, which is why we’re here to help. Reach out to our office today so that we can schedule a free consultation and get started working for you.

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