Glossary of Legal Terms – H





This glossary should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is provided for general informational purposes only. To properly advise on any given situation requires a knowledge of the facts surrounding that situation. Laws and the statutory definitions of terms will vary from state to state. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney licensed in your state.

Habeas Corpus: A writ commanding that a person be brought before a judge. Most commonly, a writ of habeas corpus is a legal document that forces law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding and to legally justify his or her confinement.

Half-bath:   Also called a powder room, a half-bath contains a toilet and a sink but no bathtub or shower stall.

Harmless Error: An error committed during a trial that was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.

Hazard insurance:    This provision of homeowners insurance covers damage by fire, wind or other disaster. It is required by all lenders before a loan is approved.

Header:    Crossbeams above windows and doors.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of managed health care system that contracts with medical facilities, physicians, employers, and sometimes individuals to provide medical care to a group of people known as “members.” Generally, members of HMOs don’t have any significant “out-of-pocket” expenses because the medical care is most often paid for by an employer at a fixed price per patient.

Hearing: A proceeding usually without a jury.

Hearsay: An out of court statement which is neither an admission or a declaration against interest. Hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in a judicial proceeding.

Heat pump:    An electric cooling and heating system.

Hectare:    The equivalent of 2.471 acres.

Hemiplegia: One side of the body affected. Arm and leg may be equally or unequally affected.

Hemorrhagic Stroke: Occurs when an artery in the brain tears or bursts, causing blood to spill out.

Herceptin: A medical agent indicated for the treatment of certain breast cancer patients. Herceptin® injection can cause fatal pulmonary effects in patients with preexisting lung conditions.

Hidden Defect: A defect in property or goods which is not readily detectable, that causes injury to a third party.

High density:    The concentration of housing units in a specific area or on a specific property.

High-rise:    Any building higher than six stories.

Hip roof   A pitched roof with sloping sides.

Historic preservation:    The physical rehabilitation of a historic home or building, and the movement of the same name begun in the 1960s in theU.S. to preserve and protect landmarks and urban neighborhoods.

Historic structure:    A home or building listed in the National Register of Historic Places and certified as historic by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

HMO Negligence: Generally, a type of medical malpractice that can be defined as the carelessness of an HMO, acting through its physicians, in making treatment decisions for a member that results in injury to that member.

Home equity conversion mortgage:    Loans made to older owners who want to convert equity into money. Because borrowers are qualified on the basis of the value of their home, e, the loan is not the same as a home equity loan. Also known as reverse mortgages.

Home equity loan:    A loan that allows owners to borrow against the equity in their homes.

Home inspection   An examination of a home’s construction, condition and internal systems by an inspector or contractor prior to purchase.

Home rule:    The power of a local government to adopt its own land-use regulations.

Home state: The state where the child has lived for at least six consecutive months or since birth if the child is less than six months old.

Home warranty:    A type of insurance that covers repairs to certain parts of a house and some fixtures.

Homeowners’ association:    A group that governs a modern subdivision or planned community. An association collects monthly fees from all owners to pay for maintenance of common areas, handle legal and safety issues, and enforce the covenants, conditions and restrictions set by the developer.

Homeowner’s Insurance: Policy that insures individuals against any, some, or all of the risks of loss to personal dwellings or the contents of personal dwellings or the personal liability pertaining to personal dwellings.

Homeowners’ insurance:    This insurance includes hazard coverage for any damages that may affect the value of a house, in addition to personal liability and theft coverage.

Homeowners’ warranty:    Special insurance policies that cover certain home repairs for a specified amount of time.

Homestead exemption: Protecting the debtor’s residence against seizure. This is an exemption that must be granted under state law.

Homesteading:    A document that to protects some of a home’s equity from lawsuits.

Hopper window:    A window that contains a single sash that tilts inward.

Hose bibb:    A threaded faucet connection for devices such as a washing machine.

Hospital malpractice: Occurs when a patient suffers damages as a result of a medical professional’s failure to follow the standards of care set forth for his/her medical field. Hospital malpractice can be the result of an intentional act or negligence which causes injury to a patient. Hospital malpractice is often the result of a heath care provider failing to prevent injury or illness to a patient as a similarly situated medical professional would have done.

Hostile Witness: A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness. A hostile witness may be asked leading questions and may be cross-examined by the party who calls him or her to the stand.

House wrap:    A polyethylene barrier wrapped around a house to save energy.

Housing discrimination:    The illegal practice of denying an individual or group the right to buy or rent a home based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or family status.

Housing expense ratio:    The percentage of gross monthly income devoted to housing costs.

HUD-1 Uniform Settlement Statement:    A closing statement or settlement sheet that outlines all closing costs on a real estate transaction or refinancing.

Hung Jury: A jury that cannot reach a verdict due to an inability to reconcile their differences.

Hurt on the Job: In order to establish a right to workers’ compensation benefits, there must be an employment relationship during which an accident or an injury arises in the course of employment and is related thereto, and includes aggravation, reactivation, acceleration or death resulting from the injury.

Hypertonia: Increased postural tone; ‘stiffness’ of muscles.
Hypothetical Question: A combination of assumed or proved facts stated in a form that would allow an expert witness to give an opinion based on such facts.

Hypotonia: Reduced postural tone; ‘floppiness’ of muscles