Legal Dictionary S

DeMayo Law Offices have provided you with a legal dictionary
so that you can better understand some of the legal vocabulary used throughout our website and during your personal injury claim.

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Sale – A contract between two parties, a seller (sometimes called a vendor) and a buyer (sometimes called a vendee), where the seller gives the buyer title and possession of property in exchange for a price.

Sane – Having a natural and normal mental condition.

Satisfy – To pay a debt or claim.

Scope of Authority – In agency law, actions by an agent that have been either actually or implicitly authorized by the person or organization for which that agent works.

Scope of Employment – The actions done by an employee to carry out the business of an employer that are reasonably foreseeable by that employer as being part of the business.

Seasonal Employment- Employment that can only be carried out during specific seasons or fairly definite portions of the year.

Seller – Also called a vendor, one who sells goods or property for a price.

Sequester – To separate or isolate.

Service of Process – Generally, the act of notifying a person or organization that they are under the jurisdiction of a court so that they may appear in court or otherwise respond to the notice.

Set-off – In an automobile insurance context, when the amount recoverable under one policy or a part of that policy up to a certain limit is restricted to the difference between what has already been recovered under a different policy or part of the policy and the limit.

Settlement – An agreement between two parties in a case to either forego litigation or stop current litigation in exchange for a monetary compensation. In the personal injury context, a settlement would usually involve payment from the defendant to the plaintiff, after which the case would not be tried in court.

Severance of Actions – Judicial proceeding separating the claims of multiple parties and permitting separate actions on each one or some combination of them.

Show Cause Order – Judicial direction to appear in court and present reasons why the court should not take a proposed action.

Slip Opinion – A court decision published soon after it was made.

Social Host Liability – The liability of a person (the “social host”) who furnishes free alcoholic beverages to another (the “guest”), when the guest subsequently sustains injuries or causes injury to a third person because of his/her intoxication.

Social Security – Social Security is a government-funded program to provide people who are unable to work with compensation so that they are able to live. Social security disability can be difficult to apply for and receive without the aid of a social security disability lawyer.

Sovereign Immunity – A doctrine that does not allow a lawsuit to be brought against the government without its waiver or consent.

Special Appearance – The representation by an attorney at court that he or she appears specially for the defendant for that appearance only. A special appearance will not obligate the attorney past that one appearance.

Special Jurisdiction – Power of a court to deal with only a limited type of case.

Spoliation – Generally, the destruction of evidence.

Standard of Care – In the law of negligence, the degree of care which a reasonable, prudent or careful person should exercise under the same or similar circumstances. If the standard falls below that established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm, the person may be liable for damages resulting from such conduct.

Standard of Proof – Also known as “Burden of Proof.” Degree of proof required in a specific kind of case to prevail. In the majority of civil cases, it is proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Stare Decisis – Policy of the courts to not overturn precedents; adherence to precedents.

State Courts – Those courts that constitute the state judicial system, in contrast to federal courts.

State Law – Those laws which apply to a specific state or ordinances that apply to a specific city or town, as opposed to federal laws.

Statute – Generally, a law created by a legislature.

Statute of Frauds – A law requiring that certain contracts must contain a written signature to be valid.

Statute of Limitations – The time prescribed by statute in which a plaintiff can bring a lawsuit.

Statute of Repose – Similar to a statute of limitations, this statute limits the time during which a cause of action can arise for products cases.

Statutory Interpretation – The act of determining the meaning of a particular law by analyzing the wording and punctuation of the statute.

Stay – Court-ordered suspension of a judicial proceeding.

Stipulation – An agreement between the parties (and usually their lawyers) made in court and presented to the judge on who will make an order based on the matters agreed to. For example, if the parties stipulate to a certain amount of spousal support, the court will make an order consistent with that stipulation.

Strict Construction – Judicial interpretation of the law whereby the judge adheres to the literal meaning of the words. Compare with liberal construction which expands the literal meaning of the statute to meet cases that are clearly within the spirit or reason of the law.

Strict Liability – Doctrine that holds defendants liable for harm caused by their actions regardless of their intentions or lack of negligence. Often applied to manufacturers or sellers of defective products in products liability cases.

Stroke – Damage to a part of the brain when its blood supply is suddenly reduced or stopped. This stoppage in blood flow can occur as the result of a blood vessel becoming blocked or bursting inside the brain. The part of the brain deprived of blood dies and can no longer function.

Structured Settlement – An agreement wherein one party agrees to pay a sum of money over a period of time to settle a case as opposed to a lump sum payment.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction – The court’s power to deal with the general subject matter involved in a case. For example, a bankruptcy court judge has no subject matter jurisdiction to hear a divorce case.

Subornation of Perjury – Procuring someone to make a false statement under oath.

Subpoena – Command to appear at a certain place and time to give testimony on a matter.

Subpoena Duces Tecum – Command to produce some document or paper.

Subrogation – Substitution of one person for another, giving the substitute the same legal rights as the original party. For example, an insurance company may have a right of subrogation to sue anyone whom the person it compensated had a right to sue.

Substantive Law – The body of law that creates, defines, and regulates rights. Compare with procedural law which prescribes the manner to enforce rights or obtaining redress for invasion of rights.

Substitution of Parties – The replacement of one party to a lawsuit by another.

Sue – The act of bringing a lawsuit.

Suit or Lawsuit – Generally, a court action brought by one person, the plaintiff, against another, the defendant , seeking compensation for some injury or enforcement of a right.

Summary Judgment. – A final decision by a judge that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties. A motion for summary judgment is made after discovery is completed but before the case goes to trial.

Summons – Formal document beginning a civil action or special proceeding which is a means to gain jurisdiction over a party. Also, a document directed to a sheriff or other authorized person ordering him/her to serve the person named on the summons who must appear at a certain place and time to respond to the action.

Supplier of Goods – In products liability law, all parties in the chain of supply of a product for profit, including manufacturers, sellers, and dealers.

Survival Action – A survival action is brought by the administrator of a deceased person’s estate in order to recover loss to the estate resulting from a tort. A survival action continues in the decedent’s personal representative, a right of action which accrued to the decedent at common law because of a tort. A survival action, unlike a wrongful death action, is not a new cause of action. Where death is caused by negligence, both a survival action and a wrongful death action may be brought.

Survival Statutes – Statutory law that provides for a legal action to continue after the death of a person involved in the action.


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