17 Legal Terms Made Simple

Translation You Need From a South Carolina Law Firm You Trust

Navigating the South Carolina legal system without an experienced attorney as your guide can be complicated. The tricky terminology alone can make seeking justice seem like a nearly impossible task. That’s where a trusted team of attorneys comes into play.

At West Law Firm, located in Moncks Corner, SC, we believe it’s important for our clients to stay informed each step of the way, and to feel comfortable with the process as we move through it together. We strive to not only help our clients feel understood, but to understand their case and what it entails. Becoming familiar with these legal terms is an excellent place to start.

While many people in Moncks Corner, SC and across South Carolina assume that “legalese” can’t be spoken without a framed diploma from a prestigious law school, that’s not the case at all! In fact, many of these terms can be simplified down to easily-digestible definitions – and that’s exactly what we’ve done here. But because we know that things can get lost in translation, West Law Firm is always available to answer questions as they arise.

Here are 17 legal terms that you might encounter:

Appeal – Request for a higher court to reverse a trial court’s decision
Example: The personal injury attorney filed an appeal in hopes of overturning the judge’s ruling.

Bodily Injury – Damage to a person’s body that results in bruises, cuts, broken bones, etc
Example: The car wreck resulted in significant bodily injury

Civil Law – The body of laws of a state or nation used to regulate ordinary private matters, distinct from the laws regulating criminal, political or military matters
Example: A civil lawsuit resulted from the heated neighborhood dispute over land.

Contract – Documentation of an agreement between two or more people upon sufficient consideration either to do or not to do a particular act; in order words, there must be an offer and an acceptance accompanied by valuable consideration
Example: The buyer entered into a contract to purchase the seller’s house.

Credibility – Trustworthiness, believability
Example: The man’s excellent reputation proved his credibility.

Damages – The sum awarded to a person who suffered injury or loss as the result of another’s actions. There are several types of damages, depending on the type of case. The two most commonly know types are listed below.

Compensatory damages
Payment for injury or economic loss
Example: The employer was required to pay compensatory damages, covering the cost of the worker’s hospital stay and physical therapy.

Punitive damages
Payment that exceeds compensatory damages, often serving as punishment
Example: While the drunk driver couldn’t replace the victim’s lost limb, punitive damages paid for the necessary home modifications made to accommodate his wheelchair.

Defendant – The party accused of wrongdoing; the person defending themselves
Example: The defendant faced numerous criminal charges.

Docket – The court’s schedule, used to keep track of cases
Example: The personal injury case was next on the docket and would begin next week.

Liability – Legal responsibility for one’s actions
Example: The at-fault driver in a car wreck accepted liability when he admitted to running a red light.

Negligence – The failure to exercise due care
Example: The little girl’s appearance caused the daycare worker to report possible negligence.

Plaintiff – The person seeking damages who initiates a civil case
Example: The plaintiff took the stand, ready to testify against the defendant.

Statute – A law passed by a legislative body
Example: The group was protected under a new state statute.

Structured Settlement – A financial method that invests settlement funds to ensure a stream of payments over time
Example: Instead of a lump sum, the recovering victim received a structured settlement.

Testify – To make a statement under oath, whether spoken (during a deposition or trial) or written in an affidavit
Example: The witness was called to testify against the drunk driver.

Title – An official document that declares ownership
Example: The car’s seller handed over the title to the new owner.

Tort – A wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) that leads to civil liability
Example: The armed robbery was considered an intentional tort.

If we missed a legal term that you’re curious about, just let us know! We’d love to include it on our list. Providing the very best service to our clients in Moncks Corner, SC and across South Carolina matters to us, and your feedback helps ensure we exceed expectations – every client, every case.

To schedule your free consultation, call 843-761-5626 or click here. We look forward to speaking with you!

About West Law Firm, P.A.

Founded by H. Norman West in 1945, West Law Firm has served the Lowcountry for nearly 75 years.  Practice areas include personal injury, car wrecks, criminal defense, DUI defense, family law, wrongful death, land disputes, business litigation, probate and estate planning, and alternative dispute resolution.

West Law Firm, P.A.
207 Carolina Avenue
Moncks Corner SC 29461

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