World Executives Digest | 10 Basic Legal Terms That Will Help You Avoid Trouble | Not everyone has first-hand experience in the legal world. But if and when you find yourself in the throes of a legal situation you may find even a little legal knowledge can go a long way.
Whether you’re a business owner, a business partner, entrepreneur, parent, or even an employee, there are a few basic legal terms that are worth knowing. You may have heard some of these terms in your favorite crime drama, but what do they really mean?
Find out more in this blog.
Basic Legal Terms Worth Knowing in Your Adult Life
As an adult, you could face some form of legal responsibility in your lifetime. This is especially relevant if you’re a business owner, an employee, or parent. While the words of the law are expansive and intricate, there are a few simple terms that may be able to help you when you need it most.
Learn some of the lingo, here:
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof falls on the shoulders of both a prosecuting attorney (prosecutor) and a defense attorney. Essentially, it is their job to prove that allegations in a lawsuit are either true or false, according to evidence.
This evidence needs to be objective and completely based on facts in order to stand-up in a court-of-law. A burden of proof typically applies to the plaintiff — the person who filed the lawsuit. It is the job of their lawyer to prove that a defendant is guilty, until then, they are ”innocent until proven guilty”.
There are three different types of law — criminal, civil, and constitutional. In this case, constitutional law is the highest-ranking form of law. Basically, all laws that govern the country must align with the constitution, also known as supreme law.
If a single law is challenged for what it prescribes, this is at the consideration of the constitutional court. This means that a change in any single law could mean a change in the constitution.
In short, liability means legal obligation. For example, all businesses are liable for the services and products they sell. They must ensure that what they offer is safe and up-to-standard for public use.
The same goes for the company structure and the handling of insurance policies and liability issues.
A sole proprietorship means that the business owner absorbs full responsibility or liability for everything their business does. A corporation or limited liability business does not hold its shareholders personally liable for the company’s shortcomings, debts, and other legal issues.
Compensation or Damages
In this case, a person receives compensation for something they have suffered or endured. This is usually caused by an accident, and major injury, or economic loss.
For example, a person receives monetary damages for the pain and suffering they endured during a car accident, caused by a negligent driver. This person who receives compensatory damages is the ”plaintiff”.
On the topic of compensation, negligence usually plays an integral role in this case. Negligence focuses on failure to take responsible care in a situation, in order to avoid loss or injury to another person.
However, in order to prove negligence, you must prove fault by the hands of another person. This could include a breach of duty, reckless driving, a defectively manufactured product, or poor business service.
There are numerous forms of negligence. However some of the most common include accident and injury caused by negligent driving, slip and fall hazards, medical negligence, and more.
While a person is expected to pay compensatory damages in a case of negligence, punitive damages are a little more severe. These types of damages intend to punish a defendant for their actions. They also serve the purpose of deterring others from the same type of negligent, harmful, and damaging behavior.
Punitive damages are usually awarded on top of compensatory damages.
This is the legal obligation of a person who is expected to take reasonable care or attention, as expected by any other average, responsible person. So, in other words, as a patron in a restaurant, you would expect the chefs to carry out good personal hygiene.
It is the chef’s diligence to wash their hands before handling and preparing your food. The same concept applies across any other type of business and the services or products they offer.
Harassment is, unfortunately, fairly common in our everyday lives. There are numerous forms of harassment based on gender, age, religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, and more.
Harassment includes behavior that creates a hostile, intimidating, and uncomfortable experience for another person. Harassment in the workplace is often described as a condition of continued employment that is hostile and intimidating.
Intellectual property is not tangible property. So, the law relating to this type of property includes trademarks, patents, copyrights, and even ideas. Both state and federal law protects intellectual property.
As a business owner, the laws protecting intellectual property are extremely important. These laws are in place to protect patents, trademarks, and copyrights from being stolen, made, used, or sold, without authorization.
Malfeasance includes behavior or conduct that is intentionally illegal or morally incorrect. This type of behavior also includes dishonesty and an abuse of power.
Malfeasance is most common within the business and corporate realm. Corporate malfeasance includes crimes such as securities fraud, financial deception, tax evasion, and more.
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Understanding these basic legal terms should stand you in good stead throughout your adult life because you never know what kind of curveball life could throw your way.
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