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Legal Dictionary - Glossary of Legal Terms

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Panel of Physicians. Also known as "Panel of Doctors," this is a posted list of doctors, specialists, and emergency care centers where injured workers in Pennsylvania must receive medical treatment for the first 90 days of injury if they wish to have their medical bills covered by their employer.

Partial Disability. In a workers' compensation case, this refers to any disability that is less than total. Workers' compensation benefits are generally measured by earning power in this situation.

Perjury. Intentional false statement of material importance made under oath; lying under oath.

Person. Generally, a human being. Legally, a "person" may statutorily include a corporation, partnership, trustee, legal representative, etc.

Personal Jurisdiction. The power of a court over a person. Compare with subject matter jurisdiction.

Personal Representative. One who stands in the place of another.

Petition. A formal written request for judicial action on a certain matter.

Petition to Terminate, Modify or Suspend Benefits. In a workers' compensation case, this is the petition filed by the employer/insurance carrier in an attempt to modify, suspend or terminate an injured employee's compensation.

Petitioner. One who presents a petition to a court, officer, or legislative body.

Plaintiff. In civil law, the person who brings an action or starts a lawsuit.

Plead. In civil law, a defendant's formal answer to a plaintiff's complaint.

Pleading. A document filed in a court that pertains to a case.

Possessor of Land. A person who occupies land and intends to control it. Most often, it is the owner of the property.

Power of Attorney. Written document authorizing one person to take certain legal actions on behalf of the person giving the power of attorney.

Precedent. Decision by a court that provides an example or authority for later cases involving a similar question of law. See binding authority.

Preponderance of the Evidence. The amount of evidence needed for a plaintiff to win in a civil action. A preponderance of the evidence is the greater weight of the evidence or the more convincing evidence in comparison to the evidence offered in opposition. A plaintiff can win by a preponderance of the evidence even if plaintiff's evidence merely tips the scales in plaintiff's favor.

Presumptively Capable of Negligence. Pennsylvania law places minors in three categories based on age. Minors under 7 are conclusively presumed incapable of negligence. Simply put, under the law, they cannot commit torts. Minors between 7 and 14 are presumed incapable of negligence, but the presumption is rebuttable or disputable, and the presumption grows weaker as the child nears his or her 14th birthday. Minors over 14 are presumptively capable of negligence. Simply put, under the law they are presumed as being able to commit torts. The burden is on the minor to prove incapacity.

Prevailing Party. Generally, the winning party in a lawsuit.

Prima Facie. Literally means "at first sight" or "on the face of it." "Prima facie evidence" is evidence that is good and sufficient on its face. A plaintiff makes out a "prima facie case" when he or she presents "prima facie evidence," which means that the plaintiff is permitted to prevail on that evidence alone, unless the defendant can put forth sufficient evidence to overcome it.

Primary Care Physician (PCP). A physician that is employed by or contracts with a managed health care system like an HMO that coordinates all of the member's medical care. A PCP is usually a family practitioner. PCP's are also known as "gatekeepers" because they control a member's access to medical care within a health plan.

Privileged Communication . Statement protected from forced disclosure in court because the statement was made within a "protected" relationship such as attorney/client. See attorney-client privilege.

Pro Bono. (Latin: "for the good") Used to describe the provision of services free of charge.

Procedural Law. Generally, the body of law establishing the method or procedure of enforcing rights or obtaining redress for invasion of rights. Compare with substantive law which establishes rights.

Products Liability. Area of the law involving the liability of manufacturers and sellers of dangerous or defective goods or products.

Promulgate. To officially announce.

Property Damage Liability Coverage.  Automobile insurance coverage required under Pennsylvania law that provides money to pay claims if your car damages the property of another person.

Proximate Cause. The proximate cause of an injury is the primary or moving cause that produces the injury and without which the accident could not have happened, if the injury is one which might be reasonably anticipated or foreseen as a natural consequence of the wrongful act.

Punitive Damages. Also known as "Exemplary Damages." Compensation greater than is necessary to pay a plaintiff for a loss. These damages are awarded because the loss was aggravated by violence, oppression, malice, fraud or wanton and wicked conduct on the part of the defendant. Such damages are intended to punish the defendant for his evil behavior or make an example of him or her.

Purchaser. In products liability law, a person who buys a product.

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