Personal Injury Glossary

Personal Injury Glossary

Affidavit - A voluntary sworn statement of fact made before an authorized officer of the court

Alternative Dispute Resolution - A means of settling a legal dispute short of going to court. Examples include mediation and arbitration.

Anesthesia - The loss of feeling due to the administration of an anesthetic drug. Anesthesia is administered prior to certain tests and surgeries to assist the doctor with intubation and to assure the patient does not move. Anesthesia helps the patient to not feel pain and not remember the procedure.

Anoxic Brain Injury (Anoxia) - An injury to the brain that occurs due to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain.

Appeal - A means of asking a higher court to review and reverse a lower court's decision

Arbitration - A means of resolving a conflict between two parties by both sides agreeing to an impartial party who will render a decision based on evidence presented

Bad Faith - When a person or party knowingly plans to deceive the other person or party by not fulfilling their responsibilities

Birth Injury - Any kind of damage to an infant's body before, during or directly after birth. Examples include Erb's Palsy, Anoxia, Hypoxia, Cerebral Palsy and shoulder dystocia.

Brief - A document written by an attorney that summarizes the critical facts and arguments of the client's case

Burden of Proof - The duty placed on a party to prove his/her claim(s) against another party is true

Catastrophic Injury - A life-impacting injury (significant permanent injury including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, quadriplegia, etc.)

Cerebral Palsy - A developmental abnormality of the brain that causes weakness and a loss of coordination in the limbs. Cerebral Palsy often occurs as a result of a traumatic birth.

Civil Law - Rights of a private citizen as set forth in a written body of law used as a means of resolving non-criminal disputes. Typically a civil case involves individuals and/or companies fighting over money or contractual obligations.

Claim - A demand for payment that is believed to be owed or due.

Claimant - The person or party making the demand for payment due.

Class Action - A lawsuit brought forth by a person or persons on behalf of a group who have the same claim.

Commercial Vehicle - Any vehicle registered to a company that is used for transporting goods or passengers.

Comparative Negligence - A legal means of determining fault and damages based on the degree of responsibility of each involved party.

Compensatory Damages - The money awarded by the court to an injured party to make up for their loss or injuries.

Contingency Fee - A financial arrangement between a lawyer and client where the client pays no fee up front but agrees to pay the lawyer a percentage of the money recovered in a successful case.

Counter Claim - A claim brought by the defendant against the plaintiff in a lawsuit.

Damages - Financial compensation as the result of a claim for loss or injury.

Default Judgment - A decision by the court in favor of the plaintiff resulting from the defendant not appearing in court to answer a complaint or a petition.

Default Judgment - A decision by the court in favor of the plaintiff resulting from the defendant not appearing in court to answer a complaint or a petition.

Demand Letter - A letter (usually drafted by an attorney) requesting payment or restitution for their client as the result of a loss or damages.

Deposition - A witness's oral testimony, given under oath, as taken by a lawyer and recorded by a court reporter for use in a trial or in the discovery phase of a lawsuit.

Diagnosis - The identification of a disease or health condition based on the evaluation of symptoms and signs.

Differential Diagnosis - The identification of a list of possible diseases when presented with signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with more than one disease.

Discovery - The required disclosure of information or evidence by the adverse party in a legal matter.

Erbs Palsy - Nerve damage in the shoulder area of a baby caused by trauma during delivery resulting in paralysis of muscles in hand, arm and/or shoulder.

Evidence - Facts or testimony supporting a claim in a legal matter.

Expert Witness - A person qualified to give subject-matter testimony based on his or her specialty before the court.

Fetal Heart Monitor - An electronic device used to keep track of a baby's heart rate and the mother's uterus during labor.

Forceps - A surgical instrument sometimes used to aid in delivering a baby.

Gross Negligence - Reckless disregard for the health and safety of another person.

Guardian - A person who is legally responsible for the care or property of another person.

Guardian Ad Litem - A court-appointed person who is responsible for the best interest of a minor, an unborn child or a person deemed incompetent.

Home Owners Insurance - A policy purchased by the owner of a private residence to protect against damage to the property and liability of the homeowner against any accidents occurring on the property.

Hypoxia - Inadequate supply of oxygen to the body tissues by the blood.

Indemnify - One party's agreement or obligation to cover the damages or losses suffered on behalf of another party.

Informed Consent - The responsibility of a medical professional to provide the patient with clear information about a surgery, test, treatment or procedure and any alternative treatments available.

Injury - Any harm caused by the violation of a legal right. This includes physical or emotional harm, damage to reputation and damages to property.

Insurance Adjuster - One who investigates insurance claims to determine damages and works to negotiate a settlement.

Insurance Claim - A formal request for payment to the insurance company asking for payment based on the terms of the insurance policy.

Insured - The person or party covered by an insurance policy.

Interrogatories - A list of questions that one party sends to the opposing party for a formal response given under oath to aid in discovery in a legal matter.

Intubation - The insertion of a tube into a person's body, usually via the nose or mouth, to aid in breathing or the addition or removal of fluids.

Judgment - A decision by the court resolving a legal matter.

Jurisdiction - The court's authority to make decisions in a legal matter.

Jury - A group of people selected and sworn to hear evidence and give a decision as the result of hearing and viewing evidence in a legal proceeding.

Lawsuit - A case brought before the court to determine legal rights and duties and to bring a dispute to a legal resolution.

Liability - Legal responsibility for actions.

Lien - The right to hold or encumber the property of another party to secure a debt.

Litigation - The act of bringing a law suit before the court.

Loss of Consortium - A legal claim brought as the result of the loss of companionship, love and affection of another person as the result of personal injury.

Lost Wages - Amount of income lost as the result of an injury.

Malpractice - Negligence or improper conduct by a professional.

Mediation - A voluntary and nonbinding means of resolving conflicts between two or more parties.

Medical Expenses - The itemization of any health related expenses associated with an injury.

Medical Malpractice - Negligence or breach in the standard of care by a medical professional.

Medical Records - Documents detailing a patient's medical history including details of medical appointments, symptoms and complaints, diagnoses, medical test results and prescription records.

Mesothelioma - Cancer occurring in the thin membranes of the lining of the body's internal organs, especially chest and abdomen, often associated with exposure to asbestos.

Misdiagnosis - An incorrect assessment of the medical condition of a patient.

Mitigation of Damages - A person who has suffered injury or loss must make reasonable efforts to minimize or avoid additional losses or damages.

Motion - A request for a ruling by a judge in a legal matter.

Negligence - The failure to perform with reasonable care resulting in loss or injury to another party.

No-Fault Insurance - Driver's insurance that will cover an agreed to amount of loss suffered in a car accident no matter who is at fault. For example, in Kentucky, no-fault insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages for a vehicle's occupants regardless of who caused the accident.

Nursing Home Abuse - Physical, mental or financial injury or neglect of an nursing home resident.

Pain and Suffering - The physical or mental pain or suffering incurred as the result of an injury.

Paralysis - Loss of muscle movement for one or more body parts.

Personal Injury Attorney - A lawyer who represents a person (plaintiff) alleging damages from a physical or mental injury.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - Automobile insurance policy that will cover medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses up to an agreed to limit incurred as the result of a car accident. PIP is also referred to as No-Fault Coverage.

Plaintiff - The injured party who initiates a lawsuit.

Policy Limits - The maximum financial extent of coverage for an insurance policy.

Power of Attorney - A legal document drafted so that a person can legally give another party the authorization to act on his/her behalf.

Power of Attorney - A legal document drafted so that a person can legally give another party the authorization to act on his/her behalf.

Product Liability - A company or manufacturer's legal obligation for any injury suffered as the result of a product produced by that company or manufacturer. Product liability claims may be based upon claims that products were defectively designed or were improperly produced.

Punitive Damages - A financial award above and beyond compensatory damages which serves to punish the defendant and deter other parties from similar behavior or practices.

Quadriplegia - Partial or complete loss of muscle functioning in the limbs and torso.

Reasonable Care - The degree of caution and attention a professional person should exercise when treating or rendering service to another individual. It is a subjective measure representing what an ordinarily prudent person would do under similar circumstances.

Recovery - The reward received by an injured party in a lawsuit.

Settlement - Resolution of a legal difference without a trial.

Shoulder Dystocia - A condition occurring during childbirth where the baby's shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother's pubic bone. This can cause nerve damage in the shoulder area of a baby resulting in paralysis of muscles in hand, arm and/or shoulder.

Soft Tissue Injury - Muscle, tendon, ligament or nerve damage as the result of an injury.

Statute of Limitations - A time limit during which to bring legal action as determined by a federal or state law.

Strict Liability - Responsibility for injuries without regard to negligence.

Structured Settlement Annuity - A financial arrangement made as the result of an insurance settlement that is paid by making regularly scheduled payments as opposed to one lump sum pay out.

Subrogation - The right to recover money paid by one company or insurer (often health care providers or providers of payments for lost wages) that are the responsibility of another party.

Summary Judgment - A decision rendered by the court as a means to avoid an unnecessary trial. When the law and evidence makes it clear that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court may grant summary judgment.

Tort - A non criminal wrong for which the injured party seeks compensation.

Tort Reform - The attempt to change laws so as to reduce the total rewards and compensation sought by plaintiffs in the legal system for civil wrongs.

Toxic Exposure - Contact with chemicals that have harmful effects.

Toxic Torts - Personal injury claims that injuries or losses that a plaintiff incurred were due to exposure to harmful toxins or chemicals.

Trauma - Mental or physical pain suffered as a result of some force, for example, a car accident.

Traumatic Brain Injury - Damage to the brain from a head injury as the result of a physical force.

Trial - A legal proceeding between two opposed parties in which a case is put before a judge or a judge and a jury for a verdict.

Uninsured (Underinsured) Motorist Clause - The section of an insurance policy that gives the purchaser of the policy coverage for damages incurred in an accident with another driver with insufficient or no insurance coverage.

Vacuum (Vacuum Extractor) - An instrument that assists in delivering a baby by using suction in the birth canal.

Verdict - The jury's decision at the end of a trial or the judge's decision if the lawsuit is tried without a jury.

Witness - A person who gives testimony based on what he/she saw or heard or knows by personal experience.

Wrongful Death - When a person is killed because of the negligence of another person or party.

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