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Legal Dictionary - Glossary of Legal Terms

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Law. The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom.

Law Clerks. Persons trained in the law who assist judges or attorneys.

Lawsuit. A civil action; a court proceeding to enforce a right (rather than to convict a criminal).

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

Lawyer. A person licensed to practice law; other words for "lawyer" include: attorney, counsel, solicitor and barrister.

Layperson. A nonprofessional; a non-expert. In law, an individual who has not undergone formal legal training.

Leading Case. Case regarded as having determined the law on a particular point, thus becoming a guide for later decisions.

Leading Question. A question that suggests the desired answer to a witness or “places words in the witness’ mouth.” With some exceptions, leading questions are prohibited on direct examination.

Legal Cause. Substantial factor in bringing about the harm. See also proximate cause.

Legal Fiction. Assumption of a fact that may or may not be true made by a judge to decide a legal question.

Liability. An obligation that one is bound in law to perform; usually involves the payment of money damages.

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

Licensee. In civil law, a person who enters land with consent, but nothing more.

Lien. An encumbrance on property to secure payment of a debt. A health care provider has a right to place a lien on a claim to guarantee that his/her bills will be paid when the case concludes.

Limited Jurisdiction. Refers to courts that are limited in the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear. District, municipal and police courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.

Limited Tort Option. In Pennsylvania, purchasers of motor vehicle insurance can choose "limited tort," which restricts their right to seek money damages for an accident caused by another driver. Under limited tort, the insured can only seek money damages for economic loss, including medical bills. The insured is prohibited from seeking damages for pain and suffering, except under certain limited circumstances. Compare with full tort option.

Litigant. One who is engaged in a lawsuit.

Lordosis. Contest in court; a law suit.

Lordosis. The spinal curve of the low back and neck. The term is used to refer abnormally increased curvature (hyperlordosis) or to the normal curvature (normal lordosis).

Lump Sum. See compromise and release.

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