EXPERIENCE YOU CAN TRUST. (520) 209-1855
Tort: this is a term for a wrong done to another that causes damages.
Plaintiff: the party who brings the legal action against another.
Defendant: the other; or more particularly, the person or company that allegedly
caused the injuries and damages. Also referred to as the “tortfeasor.”
Pleadings: the papers filed in court to advance the lawsuit.
Complaint: the pleading filed by the Plaintiff that initiates the lawsuit.
Answer: the pleading filed by the Defendant in response to the Complaint.
Discovery and Disclosure
Disclosure Statement: after the lawsuit is initiated (with a Complaint filed
by the Plaintiff and an Answer filed by a Defendant), the parties must
exchange Disclosure Statements. Although it may not be unique to Arizona,
not every state has this requirement in its rules of civil procedure. The
Disclosure Statements tell the other side what your case (or defense) is all
about, who your witnesses are, what your evidence will be, and any other
relevant information about the case that you may know, but the other parties
may not know. As new information becomes known, the parties have a
continuous duty to supplement their Disclosure Statements.
Interrogatories: these are questions, and usually come in written form,
served by one party onto another party. For instance, the Defendant may
serve interrogatories onto the Plaintiff. The party served must answer these
written questions within a certain amount of time. The attorney assists his or
her client in answering the interrogatories. Interrogatories are part of the
discovery phase of the case.
Request for the Production of Documents: like written interrogatories ask
for information, these requests ask for copies of documents. For instance, if
the Plaintiff is making a lost wages claim (i.e., that he or she lost income as a
result of the Defendant's wrongful act), the Defendant may ask for past tax
returns to establish what the person was making before the loss occurred. Or
one party could ask for copies of pictures the other party may have of the
cars involved in a vehicular crash. Again, the attorney will assist the client
in responding to these requests.
Depositions: another form of discovery. See FAQs, for a full description of
Site Inspections: if the scene where an car crash or incident took place is
important for an understanding of how it happened, or who was at fault, the
parties have a right to visit that scene and inspect it.
Mediation: See FAQs, for a full description.
Arbitration: See FAQs for a full description.
Verdict: this is the decision of the jury (or the court, if a jury isn't used). It
becomes a "judgment", and if one of the parties is going to appeal the case, the
verdict must become a judgment, for only judgments may be appealed.
Injuries, Losses, and Damage: These include, but are not limited to, physical and
mental injuries; missed trips and vacations because of injuries; loss of the use of
your car if damaged or totaled; past medical expenses; future medical expenses;
lost wages; lost earning capacity; pain; suffering; mental anguish; increased risk of
future harm, such as arthritis in an injured joint; loss of the enjoyment of life’s
Liens on your personal injury recovery (See FAQ Do I really need a lawyer):
Often times, the injured person's medical expenses are paid by a source other than
the wrongdoer or his/her insurance company, at least until the case against the
wrongdoer is resolved. This could be the injured person's health insurance (if they
have any), Medicare, Medicaid, AHCCCS/ALTCS (state of Arizona assistance),
Workers'; Compensation (if the injury happens on the job, but is still someone else's
fault), or healthcare coverage through military benefits Tricare, VA). Other times,
if the injured person has no other way to pay for the injury-related treatment, the
medical provider might just wait for payment until your case (or lawsuit) either
settles or a jury awards you money at trial.
Whether another source has paid for those medical expenses, or the medical provider is waiting for payment, either situation usually means there is what we generally refer to as a “lien” on your recovery. Sometimes the lien on your recovery is authorized by statutory rule (like in the case of AHCCCS/ALTCS, Medicare, and Workers’ Comp.), or by operation of a contract you might sign with the medical provider (often called a “private lien” or “consensual lien”).