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.
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 price. 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.
Social Guest. For the purposes of determining a landowner’s duty of care, somebody who goes onto somebody else’s property for the purpose of companionship and hospitality, not as a part of doing business. This person is treated as a licensee.
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 intoxication.
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.
Specific Loss. In a workers' compensation case, this is the compensation payable for loss (amputation) or permanent loss of use of members of the body, complete loss of hearing in one or both ears, loss of vision in one or both eyes, and disfigurement.
Stack or Stacking. In Pennsylvania automobile insurance law, purchasers of insurance have the option to "stack" uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you choose "stacking," this means that you can add the coverage together for each vehicle you have insured, at least under the policy. (An issue presently exists as to whether you can "stack" coverages under separate policies of insurance.) For example, if you have two vehicles, with $100,000/$300,000 (meaning $100,000 available per person, and $300,000 available per accident) in uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can "stack" the coverages and have available $200,000/$600,000 in coverage.
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.
Stipulation. An agreement between the parties (and usually their lawyers) made in court and presented to the judge, 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.
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.
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 right. Compare with procedural law which prescribes the manner to enforce rights or obtaining redress for invasion of rights.
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 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.
Supplemental Agreement. In a workers' compensation case, this is the form signed by the injured employee when there has been a change in disability status.
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.