Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC Articles Legal Terms you need to Know when you find yourself in a Lawsuit

Legal Terms you need to Know when you find yourself in a Lawsuit

By Chris Stoy  Oct. 18, 2016 3:08p

If you have been in an auto accident, there are a few terms that you need before you proceed. Below is a list of common terms.


The plaintiff is the party that files the cause of action in a court of law.


The defendant is the person, company, or institution that the plaintiff sues in lawsuit. The defendant can also file a counterclaim against the plaintiff.

Cause of Action

At the heart of the plaintiff's petition lies the cause of action. The cause of action is the legal theory that the plaintiff asserts in order to justify recovery from a defendant. The plaintiff's cause of action is often negligence in a personal injury case


A policyholder is a person, company, or institution who the insurance policy names – i.e. the insured. Often in personal injury, the defendant is a policyholder.


When a person initiates a lawsuit in court they enter into a process called litigation. That process is a way of resolving disputes through use of the court system.

Civil Case

A civil case usually resolves private disputes between parties. Civil cases are different from criminal cases. Criminal cases involve the state prosecuting someone who has been accused of a crime.

Rules of Evidence

The rules of evidence govern the admissibility of evidence into a court of law. Federal Courts follow the federal rules of evidence and Texas Courts follow the Texas Rules of Evidence.


Compensation is the payment of damages from the party at fault to the party who was injured. The injured party is supposed to receive compensation in order to restore the party to their previous position.


A settlement is an agreement between parties of a lawsuit. The settlement is intended to resolve the conflict that the parties are facing. Settlement can occur before the plaintiff commences the lawsuit in court or after the lawsuit has already been initiated. If parties wish to settle they must reach an agreement before the jury reaches a verdict. Parties often wish to settle lawsuits in order to save time and money. In personal injury cases insurance companies often want to settle if they know that they plaintiff has a valid claim.

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