Glossary of Tort Law Terms
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Actual Malice: To win a
defamation suit, public officials or prominent people, such as political
candidates or movie stars, must prove that the offender made a false statement
with actual malice. This means the statement was made with knowledge that it was
false or with serious doubts about whether it was true.
Affidavit: A written
statement made under oath.
Affirmed: In the practice of
the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as
rendered in the lower court.
Age of Majority: The age when
a person acquires all the rights and responsibilities of being an adult. In most
states, the age is 18.
Allegation: Something that
someone says happened.
Alternative Dispute Resolution:
Methods for resolving problems without going to court.
Amicus Curiae: Latin for
"friend of the court." Refers to a party that is allowed to provide
information (usually in the form of a legal brief) to a court even though the
party is not directly involved in the current case.
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 denies the factual
basis for liability.
Appeal: A request to a
supervisory court usually composed of a panel of judges, to overturn the legal
ruling of a lower court.
Appellate: About appeals; an
appellate court has the power to review the judgment of another lower court or
Arbitration: A method of
alternative dispute resolution in which the disputing parties agree to abide by
the decision of an arbitrator.
Arrangement: A proceeding in
which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court,
told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.
Assignment: The transfer of
legal rights, such as the time left on a lease, from one person to another.
Assumption of Risk: A defense
raised in personal injury lawsuits. Asserts that the plaintiff knew that a
particular activity was dangerous and thus bears all responsibility for any
injury that resulted.