Learn more about the Legal Terms in your case.


Act of God Defense

What is the Act of God Defense? The act of God defense applies when a violence of nature causes the plaintiff’s damage. The harm must be inevitable, and must occur without human intervention. The defendant must be unable to prevent the harm by exercising reasonable foresight or care. This means that the act of nature…

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Affirmative Defense

Affirmative defenses are reasons why the defendant should not be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. An affirmative defense does not deny the allegations in the plaintiff’s petition. Rather, when a defendant asserts an affirmative defense the defendant states that she should not be liable even if the facts occurred exactly the way the plaintiff claims…

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Assumption of the Risk

Assumption of the risk is an affirmative defense that the defendant can allege in order to defeat a plaintiff’s recovery in a negligence lawsuit. The defendant can claim that the plaintiff assumed the risk when the plaintiff consented to a known risk. In order to prove “assumption of the risk,” the defendant must show that the plaintiff…

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Burden of Proof

What is a Burden of Proof? A burden of proof is the standard that the person who sues has to meet in order for a contention of fact to be considered legally true. Who has the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case? The party that is suing has the burden of proof on liability….

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Causation

Causation is one of the elements of negligence. The plaintiff must prove that her injury is linked to the defendants conduct. A defendant will not be liable to a plaintiff if the defendant was not the cause of the plaintiff’s injury even if the conduct was extremely negligent. Causation can be broken down into two…

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Comparative Negligence and Contributory Negligence

Comparative negligence and contributory negligence are allegations sometimes raised by the defense in response to a personal injury or other type of law suit where the plaintiff claims the defendant acted negligently.  When a defendant alleges comparative or contributory negligence as an affirmative defense, he is claiming that the plaintiff did something to cause the…

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Contribution

What is Contribution? Contribution arises in situations where the defendants are jointly and severally liable. This means that both of the defendants are liable to the plaintiff for all of the plaintiff’s damages. When multiple parties are liable, the trier of fact will allocate responsibility to each party. A defendant can seek contribution from another…

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Damages

What types of Damages can be awarded to Plaintiffs in Personal Injury Cases? Damages attempt to measure the amount of harm that the plaintiff has suffered because of the defendant’s actions. Plaintiffs receive compensation for two types of damages: (1) economic losses, and (2) non-economic losses. You should assess your injury and consult with a…

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Directed Verdict

What is a Directed Verdict? A motion for a directed verdict asks the judge to direct a verdict against the opposing party. This motion is made before the case is submitted to the jury. If the judge grants the motion for directed verdict the judge will order the jury to return a verdict for the…

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Duty of Care

What is a Duty of Care? A duty of care is an obligation that an individual has to conform to a standard of conduct. The duty of care that an individual owes to another depends on the situation. In most situations, the duty of care that every person owes is to act as a reasonably…

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Eggshell Skull Doctrine

What is the Eggshell Skull Doctrine? The eggshell skull doctrine is a rule that allows a plaintiff to recover for all of the damages that the plaintiff suffered as a result of the defendant’s conduct regardless of whether the damage was worse than expected. This means that the plaintiff will be able to recover for…

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Gross Negligence

What is Gross Negligence? Gross negligence is a type of negligence that involves the defendant’s state of mind. Gross negligence occurs when a defendant shows a reckless disregard to the safety of the plaintiff. Reckless disregard is more than just a temporary lapse of judgement. It involves a conscious indifference for the well-being of another…

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Intentional Tort

What is an Intentional Tort? A tort is a wrongdoing recognized by law as grounds for a lawsuit. There are a few different ways of categorizing torts. An intentional tort is a category of torts, which describes wrongdoings that are the result of an intentional act. What are some Common Intentional Torts? Six common intentional…

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Intervening Cause

What is an Intervening Cause? A defendant can only be liable for a plaintiff’s injury if the defendant was the cause of the injury. In other words, there must be a direct connection between the plaintiff’s harm and the defendant’s actions. An intervening cause is an event that occurs after the defendant’s negligence that contributes…

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Joint and Several Liability

What is Joint and Several Liability? Joint and several liability describes a situation where a defendant is liable to the plaintiff for all of the plaintiff’s damages even though the defendant did not cause all of the plaintiffs damages. How is Joint and Several Liability Applied in Texas? Section 33.013 of the Texas Civil Practice…

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Judgement Notwithstanding

What is a Judgement notwithstanding the Verdict? A judgment notwithstanding the verdict is a judgment that can be rendered at the conclusion of a jury trial, after a jury has returned a verdict. Judgement notwithstanding the verdict is sometimes referred to as a JNOV or a judgment non obstante veredicto. A JNOV essentially reverses the…

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Negligence

One of the most common types of personal injury causes of action is negligence  (see also negligence per se). Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise ordinary care. In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant was negligent. Sometimes, when the defendant believes the plaintiff was also at fault, the defendant will…

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Negligence Per Se

In a personal injury case a common allegation made against a defendant is negligence. Another allegation is known as negligence per se. Because of this major distinction between a negligence case and one involving negligence per se, it is important for a person to have a basic understanding of the concept of negligence per se. The…

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Punitive Damages

What are Punitive Damages? The typical remedy in a civil suit is an award of actual damages. Actual damages are designed to compensate the plaintiff for the plaintiff’s out of pocket expenses that the plaintiff suffered because of the defendant’s conduct. Punitive damages are a type of damages that are in addition to actual damages….

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Res Ipsa Loquitor

What is Res Ipsa Loquitor? Res ipsa loquitor, Latin for the thing speaks for itself, is a legal doctrine that permits the trier of fact (the jury or the judge in a bench trial) to infer that the defendant was negligent simply because the accident occurred. In other words, the circumstances surrounding the accident are…

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Respondeat Superior

Respondeat Superior (Latin for “let the master answer”) is a type of vicarious liability, and is also known as the “master-servant” rule. This legal doctrine states that an employer of a negligent defendant can be liable for the defendant’s actions in certain situations. This means that the employer can be responsible for the actions of…

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Standing

Standing refers to a plaintiff’s right to file a suit in court. The plaintiff must have a stake in the outcome in order to have standing. The plaintiff cannot just be an interested member of the public. A plaintiff can demonstrate a stake in the outcome by showing that the plaintiff has a connection to the…

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Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a statute that sets the maximum amount of time after an event that the plaintiff has to initiate legal proceedings. Simply put, the statute of limitations sets the time limit that the plaintiff has to sue the defendant.  That being said, the case does not have to be resolved within…

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Strict Liability

What is strict liability? Under the theory of strict liability a defendant is liable for injuring a plaintiff even if the defendant exercised due care. How is Strict Liability Different from Negligence? In order to recover in a negligence cause of action the plaintiff must prove four things: The defendant owed a duty to the…

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Sudden Emergency

What is sudden emergency? Sudden emergency is a defense that a defendant can use to escape liability. When the defendant invokes this defense, she must prove four elements: The defendant faced a situation that arose unexpectedly and suddenly. The defendant was not at fault for the situation. A reasonable person would have concluded that the…

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Unavoidable Accident

What is an Unavoidable Accident? An unavoidable accident is an accident that is not caused by the negligence of any party, and one that could not be prevented by the exercise of due care. When the Defendant argues that a car accident was an unavoidable accident, the defendant is essentially arguing that he could not…

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