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Explaining Common Civil Litigation Terms

When navigating civil litigation, it is critical to have a clear picture of your rights, options and situation. Among the things that can make this challenging are the many unique and complex terms that can be connected to legal disputes.

Here at Farese, Farese, & Farese, we are committed to replacing confusion with clarity when it comes to civil litigation. With offices in Ashland and Oxford, our attorneys guide individuals in North Mississippi and West Tennessee through legal disputes. Below is a glossary of some common terms that may come up in such conflicts.

Business Tort Terms

Breach of fiduciary duty: When a person who is legally responsible for looking out for someone else’s best interests acts against those interests.

Fraud: When a person purposefully hides or misrepresents facts to cause a loss, often financial, to someone else.

Indemnification: Providing compensation for a loss. Some contracts contain clauses requiring indemnification in certain situations.

Liquidated damages clause: A contract clause that specifically lays out how much one party will owe the other if they breach the contract.

Negligence: When a person owes a duty to another, fails to live up to this duty and causes harm through this failure.

Trade libel: Intentionally making untrue, negative statements about a business that cause financial harm to that business.

Tort: Wrongful actions or inactions that cause harm. Businesses that are victims of torts may have legal remedies they can pursue.

Construction Dispute Terms

Arbitration: An alternative to construction litigation in which both parties agree to bring their dispute before a third party, known as an arbitrator. The arbitrator makes a binding decision on the dispute.

Bond claim: A claim alleging that a surety bond should be paid out because the obligations under the bond haven’t been met.

Mechanic’s lien: A legal claim on a property that creates a title defect. A construction company may be able to pursue such a lien against a property it worked on if it hasn’t been paid for its work.

Mediation: An alternative dispute resolution method in which a third party, known as a mediator, facilitates discussion between the two parties in a construction dispute with the goal of helping them reach an agreement on a resolution.

Performance bond: A surety bond that promises a contractor will finish a project based on the terms agreed upon.

Step-in rights: When one party has the right to take over the obligations of another party in a contract if they choose to do so. Such rights can show up in a range of construction contracts.

Surety bond: In construction, this is a contract in which a bond company agrees to pay another party if a contractor fails to meet certain obligations. There are a variety of surety bonds contractors may need to obtain in connection to their work.

Estate, Trust And Probate Litigation Terms

Ademption: When a gift of a property in a will is canceled because the person who formed the will no longer owned the property in question at the time of their death.

Ancillary probate: An additional probate proceeding that an estate may have to go through if the deceased owned property in another state.

Codicil: A document that amends the terms of a will.

Corpus: The property put into a trust. The income this property generates is not part of the corpus.

Devise: A gift that a will or trust makes. This is sometimes used specifically to refer to gifts of real property.

Encumbrance: When someone other than the owner of a property has a claim against that property.

Fiduciary: Someone who owes another person a duty to act in that person’s best interests.

Generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax: A federal tax that covers especially large gifts or inheritances to relatives two or more generations down.

Legatee: A person who is given a gift by a will. This is sometimes used to specifically refer to individuals who receive gifts of personal property from a will.

Nuncupative will: An oral will. While many states don’t recognize these wills as valid, Mississippi and Tennessee do as long as certain requirements are met.

Residuary estate: What’s left in an estate after taxes, debts, costs and specific gifts are taken out.

Stepped-up basis: A tax provision that allows those who inherit property to have the tax basis of that property be set at the fair market value when the deceased passed away, rather than the value when the property was originally bought.

Will: An estate planning document in which a person specifies what will happen with their assets when they die.

Real Estate Litigation Terms

Easement: A right to certain, defined access to a property.

Quiet title: A legal action seeking to clear up disputes or uncertainties with a title.

Workers’ Compensation Litigation

Permanent partial disability: A workers’ compensation benefit for workers who have suffered injuries that don’t keep them from working again but do make it so they will permanently earn less than they otherwise would have. This benefit covers a portion of the lost wages.


DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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