Payne Mitchell Ramsey
What to Expect

Legal Glossary

As your case unfolds, here is a collection of terms and phrases you may encounter. At any time, if we can answer a question about the process and what to expect, we’re here for you – every step of the way.


After sufficient research and due diligence concerning liability and damages, we will send a letter called a demand which requests a specific dollar amount and/or action from the defendants for damages. The demand usually begins the negotiation process.


Depositions are formal interviews taken by lawyers of witnesses and parties. These question-and-answer interviews are conducted under oath and are many times videotaped. The depositions may be used in front of the jury.


Mediation is a structured settlement discussion. Mediation is court ordered in almost all civil cases. In mediation, a third-party lawyer who is unfamiliar with the case and neutral as to sides conducts the mediation process. During the mediation, lawyers for both sides will make general opening statements. The rest of the mediation day will be spent in separate rooms, with the mediator taking offers and demands between the parties. Mediation is a useful process, and many cases are settled during mediation.

Petition or Complaint

A petition is filed in State Court. A complaint is filed in Federal Court. Both of these documents are what is traditionally thought of as the “lawsuit.” The petition or complaint is filed to initiate the lawsuit and make initial allegations against the defendant. As evidence develops, the document is changed to match the evidence in the case.

Trial Setting

This is the day that the Court chooses to set your case for trial. Unfortunately, your case is not the only case which will be set on a specific day. Generally, the Court will set ten to fifteen cases for trial on the same day. The Court will then take the oldest case first. Many times you will not get “reached” at the initial trial setting, and the Court will then reset your case for a new trial date. This is a standard procedure, but unfortunately it requires the litigants to be prepared for trial on several different occasions.

Voir Dire

Jury selection process of questioning prospective jurors, to ascertain their qualifications and determine any basis for challenge. 

Written Discovery

Legal rules allow the sides to exchange “written discovery.” This is generally in the form of interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admissions. Interrogatories are simply written questions that the opposite side must answer under oath. Requests for production require the other side to produce documents and things, such as vehicles or other evidence involved in the case. Requests for admissions require the opposite side to admit or deny certain facts so that issues may be narrowed for trial.


Todd was very compassionate, understanding, and worked diligently to assist me with my case. I would highly recommend him.


Great experience with this firm. Very professional, responsive, and available to talk and listen. I highly recommend.

Rich S

I had a great experience with this firm. They are very professional, responsive, and are always available to talk and listen. I would highly recommend.

Richard S.

Andy Payne and his staff were extremely compassionate from our initial meeting all the way through to the conclusion of our case and even afterward. They kept us completely informed during the entire case and were available literally anytime we had questions. Andy won our case substantially, and we could not recommend anyone more suitable to handle a case of negligence, wrongful death, or injury.


Quality lawyers, quality staff. They won’t be out worked by opposing counsel on the issues that shape the case as it is applied to the law. Equally important, the legal community respects their work product, intellect and candor.

Carlos C.