Glossary of Personal Injury Law Terms
Elements of a Crime: Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. The elements that must be proven are (1) that a crime has actually occurred, (2) that the accused intended the crime to happen, and (3) a timely relationship between the first two factors.
Eminent Domain: The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.
Emotional Distress: Mental anguish.
Employee Verification Form: In a workers’ compensation case, it’s a bi-annual report of earnings to be completed by the injured employee. The form is required to be returned to the insurance carrier within 30 days of receipt or benefits may be stopped.
En Banc: All the judges of a court sitting together. Appellate courts can consist of a dozen or more judges, but often they hear cases in panels of three judges. If a case is heard or reheard by the full court, it is heard en banc.
Enjoining: An order by the court telling a person to stop performing a specific act.
Entrapment: A defense to criminal charges alleging that agents of the government induced a person to commit a crime he or she otherwise would not have committed.
Equal Protection of the Law: The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law. Court decisions have established that this guarantee requires that courts be open to all persons on the same conditions, with like rules of evidence and modes of procedure; that persons be subject to no restrictions in the acquisition of property, the enjoyment of personal liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which do not generally affect others; that persons are liable to no other or greater burdens than such as are laid upon others, and that no different or greater punishment is enforced against them for a violation of the laws.
Equitable Remedies: Remedies that do not include monetary settlements. Examples include injunctions and restraining orders.
Equity: Generally, justice or fairness. Historically, equity refers to a separate body of law developed in England in reaction to the inability of the common-law courts, in their strict adherence to rigid writs and forms of action, to consider or provide a remedy for every injury. The king therefore established the court of chancery, to do justice between parties in cases where the common law would give inadequate redress. The principle of this system of law is that equity will find a way to achieve a lawful result when legal procedure is inadequate. Equity and law courts are now merged in most jurisdictions.
Error: In the legal sense, a mistaken interpretation of facts or application of the law that can prove grounds for an appeal.
Escheat (es-chet): The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir can be found.
Escrow: Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.
Estate: An estate consists of personal property (car, household items, and other tangible items), real property, and intangible property, such as stock certificates and bank accounts, owned in the individual name of a person at the time of the persons death. It does not include life insurance proceeds unless the estate was made the beneficiary) or other assets that pass outside the estate (like joint tenancy asset).
Estate Tax: Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person’s death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.
Estoppel: A person’s own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.
Et al: And others.
Evidence: Proof of a probative matter presented at trial for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the jury or judge. Evidence comes in a variety of forms, including testimony, writings, tangible objects, and exhibits.
Exemplary Damages or Punitive 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.
Exempt Property: In bankruptcy proceedings, this refers to certain property protected by law from the reach of creditors.
Exceptions: Declarations by either side in a civil or criminal case reserving the right to appeal a judge’s ruling upon a motion. Also, in regulatory cases, objections by either side to points made by the other side or to rulings by the agency or one of its hearing officers.
Exclusionary Rule: The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.
Execute: To complete the legal requirements (such as signing before witnesses) that make a will valid. Also, to execute a judgment or decree means to put the final judgment of the court into effect.
Executor: A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.
Exhibit: A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.
Exonerate: Removal of a charge, responsibility or duty.
Expert: A witness who may give an opinion in court based on the particular competence of that witness.
Ex Parte: On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. For example, a request for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, since the person subject to the search is not notified of the proceeding and is not present at the hearing.
Ex Parte Proceeding: The legal procedure in which only one side is represented. It differs from adversary system or adversary proceeding.
Ex Post Facto: After the fact. The Constitution prohibits the enactment of ex post facto laws. These are laws that permit conviction and punishment for a lawful act performed before the law was changed and the act made illegal.
Extenuating Circumstances: Circumstances which render a crime less aggravated, heinous, or reprehensible than it would otherwise be.
Expungement: Official and formal erasure of a record or partial contents of a record.
Extradition: The process by which one state or country surrenders to another state, a person accused or convicted of a crime in the other state.