Glossary of Legal Terms

A

Accident Benefits
Compensation provided to persons who have suffered a personal injury either in monetary form or assistance.
Accident Report
After an accident has occurred, this initial report is written to describe various important details and information concerning the incident.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
Everyday routine activities involving health and personal hygiene.
Actuarial Expert
A specialist who calculates the monetary equivalent of ones future lost earnings which have been lost due to injuries sustained in a personal injury accident.
Adjuster
An insurance company representative tasked to investigate claims and make decisions related to settlement.
Affidavit
A written legal statement done under oath.
Aggravated Damages
Compensation given to persons who have suffered intangible damages or distress.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
In the early stages of a personal injury case, this process of mediation is implemented and designed to achieve early settlement.
Ambulation
Ability to walk. Such an assessment may be performed after an accident resulting in a personal injury.
Appeal
Request for a higher court to overturn the ruling of a lower court.
Arbitration
A legal process designed to resolve a dispute out of court.
Assault
Deliberate attempt to threaten or physically harm an individual.
Assumption of Risk
Asserts that the injuries sustained by an individual are his or her own responsibility, knowing that the activity resulting in injury was dangerous.
At-Fault Driver
The driver who was negligent or deemed to be the cause of an accident.
At-Fault Party
The party responsible for the accident to deemed to be negligent.
Attendant Care
Assistance extended to injured persons who are unable to perform activities of daily living.
Attendant Care Benefit
Compensation for attendant care or services provided by a facility.
Automobile Accident
An accident involving at least one automobile which may or may not result in personal injury.

B

Bad faith
Fraud or dishonesty in a transaction.
Battery
Deliberate use of force on an individual causing personal injury.
Beneficiary
The designated recipient of benefits in an insurance policy.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Highest level of proof required to win a case.
Binding Arbitration
When both parties prefer not to go to trial but cannot reach a settlement, a third party arbitrator can be engaged to render a binding decision regarding their settlement.
Boating Accident
An accident involving at least one boat which may or may not result in personal injury.
Brain Injury
A head injury that results in the impairment of brain or memory function.
Brief
A written document outlining a party's legal argument regarding the case.
Burden of Proof
In a lawsuit, one party must persuade the jury or judge that the allegations are sufficiently factual to prove their case.

C

Caregiver Benefits
Monetary compensation for expenses if an individual can no longer continue to act as the main caregiver in a household due his or her injuries.
Case Manager (CM)
After an injury, the case manager is assigned to coordinate rehabilitation services for the injured person.
Catastrophic Designation
An injured person may be designated as catastrophic if, as a result of an accident, he or she became a paraplegic or quadriplegic; sustained brain injury with a Glasgow Coma Scale of 9 or less; has extreme mental or behavioral impairment; has experienced amputation of both arms or both legs or an arm and a leg; has impairment in 55 percent of body function, three years after the accident.
Catastrophic Impairment
Examples of catastrophic impairment quadriplegia, paraplegia, injuries resulting in 55% impairment of the whole person, and severe brain damage. Catastrophic Impairment is considered the most severe of personal injuries.
Catastrophic Injuries
Severe injuries sustained due to an accident and the quality of life of the person has been altered as a result.
Class Action Suit
When a number of individuals have the same claim, and one or more parties files the case on behalf of the entire group.
Clear and Convincing Evidence
In some civil cases, this level of proof is needed on order for the plaintiff to prevail.
Closed Head Injury
Head trauma that has caused brain injury without fracturing the skull.
Cognition
The conscious or mental process of thinking, reasoning, becoming or being aware of thoughts or perceptions, knowing, remembering, and understanding.
Coma
Unconscious state where an individual, even with powerful stimulation, cannot be aroused.
Compellable Witness
Under the law, a person who may be required to give evidence.
Compensation
The money that an injured party receives from the negligent party to make up for a loss. The compensation amount can either be awarded by the court or a settlement amount agreed between two parties.
Compensatory Damages
Compensation for damages for actual loss intended to place the injured person in a state where he or she should have been if not for the accident.
Contingency fee
Fee for services rendered which is payable only upon the achievement of a desired outcome.
Contract
A legally binding agreement or promise that is made between two or more parties.
Contributory Negligence
The injured person, through his or her own fault, may have contributed to the actual damages.
Corporation
A legal entity created to conduct business.
Costs Endorsement
Where a party is ordered by the court to cover some or all of the costs of the other party.
Covered Person
The insured person under an insurance policy.

D

DAC Process
The process of finding out whether the claim for benefits is necessary and if the insurance should pay for it.
Damages
Monetary equivalent for injuries sustained.
Dangerous Offender
This person is sentenced to detention for an infinite period in a federal prison because after assessment, the court finds this person to be at high risk to re-offend.
Death Benefits
In case of death, this compensation is paid to family members of the deceased person.
Deductible
An insurance policy clause relieving the insurer of duty to pay the initial loss up to a declared or specific amount.
Defective Product
Harm or injury caused by using a certain product due to various reasons such as design defect, inadequate warning, manufacturing defect, etc.
Defendant
An entity against whom a charge or claim is brought to court.
Deposition
Included in the fact-finding process before trial where the witness testifies under oath.
Direct Evidence
Proof that stands on its own to affirm an alleged fact.
Direct Examination
This is where the witness is initially questioned by the party who called him or her.
Direct Verdict
At times, when one party fails to prove a case, the judge orders the jury to return a specified verdict.
Disability
An injury sustained, either psychological or physical, as a result of an accident.
Disbursements
Expenses such as messenger services, overnight mail, photocopying, etc. which a lawyer passes on to a client.
Discovery
Compulsory pre-trial stage where documents and information must be revealed to both parties.
Disfigurement
A sizeable, permanent scar on an injury victim's face, neck, or head that results in an adverse effect on their appearance.
Dismissal with Prejudice
When a plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim and the case is dismissed for good reason.
Dismissal without Prejudice
When a plaintiff is allowed to bringing an action on the same claim after the case is dismissed.
Disorientation
A state where an individual is confused and does not know who he is, where he is, and the current date.
Duress
Where one is emotionally, physically, or psychologically being pressured to do something.
Duty to Warn
Product manufacturers have the obligation to warn customers regarding potential hazards when using the product.

E

Economic Loss
As a result of personal injury, financial losses are incurred such as future salary, current income, working benefits, etc.
Examination of Discovery
This is part of the discovery stage where, under oath, plaintiff is questioned by his or her own attorney and the defense legal counsel.
Expert
A person who has developed a skill or knowledge on a particular subject matter through experience or education.
Expert Witness
A trained individual who specializes in a certain subject matter and can be brought to court to form expert opinion on evidence.

F

Fault Auto Insurance System
Under this system, the at-fault party is liable for any damages.
Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that typically results in widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fibromyalgia also can cause fatigue and multiple tender points throughout your body where slight pressure can cause pain.
Fiduciary Duty
A legal obligation to act in the best interest of another party, such as an attorney's fiduciary duty to his client.
Fitness Hearing
A procedure under the criminal code to find out whether a defendant is mentally fit to stand trial.
Foreseeability
An issue that needs to be established to prove a person's liability. If an individual could not have foreseen that an accident may be likely due to his or her actions, there might be no liability.
Full Tort Option
Motor vehicle insurance buyers have this option which gives them the right to claim damages for all injuries sustained.
Funeral Expenses
Compensation given to cover the funeral expenses of a deceased person.

G

Garnishment
Method where a person who has a court order for payment from a defendant can demand payment from a third party who owes money to the defendant.
General Damages
Compensation for losses in a personal injury case that are non-monetary in nature such as disfigurement, pain, suffering, etc.
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
A standard system used to test for brain injury and its extent based on response to stimulation.
Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS)
A scale used to classify the outcome of those who have suffered head injuries.

H

HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) Negligence
In some instances, this type of medical malpractice occurs, one which involves negligence of both doctor and HMO.
Head Injury
Head injuries are also identified as Brain Injuries. These injuries can range from mild to moderate to severe. A Glasgow Coma Scale rating is a good indicator of a head injury. Mild to moderate head injuries can be difficult to identify.
Health Care Expenses
The cost for services provided to the injured person by a Health Care provider such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor.
Housekeeping and Home Maintenance
A type of benefit that an injured person may be entitled to receive.

I

Impairment
When one or more faculties of an individual is below normal levels such as a person's ability to walk, talk, see or hear.
Income Replacement Benefits
Compensation for loss of income when one cannot perform his or her usual job after an accident.
Informed Consent
A patient's written or verbal agreement or consent to any course of medical treatment he is to receive.
Insurer Examination
An examination by health care professionals who are appointed by an insurance company to help determine whether to pay a benefit.

J

Joint Tortfeasors
When two or more persons, with common intent, inflict an injury.
Jurisdiction
A court's designated area of authority based on the type of case and geographical location.

K

There are no terms beginning with K in our glossary.

L

Laceration
Tearing of skin and tissue.
Lapse in Coverage
When an insurance policy has been deemed void or cancelled by the insurer due to nonpayment of premium.
Liability
In personal injury cases, a person may be legally liable to someone for an inflicted injury whether deliberate or due to negligence.
Limitation Period
A period of time stated under the law where after the specified time, a lawsuit cannot be brought.
Limitations Act
Law that governs the limitation period, a window of time allowing a person to file a lawsuit.
Long-term Care
Care given to an individual who becomes functionally dependent and can no longer care for themselves.
Lost Wages
Income that an injured person is unable to earn since he or she cannot perform his job.

M

Malingering
Deception on the part of an injured person for personal gain such as faking or exaggerating symptoms.
Material Witness
A witness who holds or knows important information that could influence the case.
Mediation
Alternative legal way of settling disputes before trial.
Medical Benefits
In personal injury cases, this is compensation for medical expenses incurred that is not covered by any other medical plan.
Medical Malpractice
An addition or omission by a health care provider accepted standards or practice resulting to personal injury.
Mesothelioma
A cancerous tumor that develops on the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart generally caused by exposure to asbestos.
Motion to Dismiss
A defendant's request for the court to dismiss a civil case under the argument that no legal relief is entitled to the plaintiff.

N

Named Plaintiffs
Complainant or party that initiates a lawsuit.
Negligence
Neglect or failure to exercise the accepted standard amount of reasonable care resulting in personal injury or harm.
Neurosurgeon
A surgeon who treats nervous systems diseases. Neurosurgeons operate on the brain and spinal cord and may serve as physicians for patients with brain injuries.
No-Fault Insurance
In Ontario, this insurance system means that the at-fault party cannot be sued unless catastrophic injuries have been sustained.
Nominal Damages
Sometimes even in the absence of injury, damages are awarded for violation of legal rights.
Non-Earner Benefit
If an income replacement benefit or a caregiver benefit is not applicable, a non-earner benefit can serve as compensation to an injured person who is unable to carry on a normal life.
Non-Pecuniary Damages
Compensation for claim, such as general damages, which are compensated for with money but whose monetary value cannot be actually measured.

O

Occupational Therapist (OT)
A qualified healthcare professional trained to teach injured individuals to perform activities of daily living and their reach maximum level of function.
Offer to Settle
A document given by one party to another indicating the terms and conditions for which they are willing to settle.
Optional Benefits
Additional insurance coverage that is available for purchase to increase the coverage above the basic benefits.
Out-of-Court Settlement
An agreement in private between the plaintiff and defendant without the interference of a judge.

P

Pain and Suffering
Physical and emotional suffering a person experiences as the result of a personal injury case. Financial awards generally include compensation to account for pain and suffering experienced by the victim.
Paraplegic
A person whose lower half portion of the body is paralyzed, generally as the result of a spinal cord injury.
Party
The defendant and plaintiff in a lawsuit, including their legal counsel.
Payment of other Expenses
This expense covers compensation for items lost or damaged during the incident, family members' expenses during the individual's treatment and recovery, some home maintenance and housekeeping.
Pecuniary Damages
Damages that can be measured in monetary terms such as future and past income loss.
Physical Therapist (PT)
A registered healthcare professional trained to help treat physical injury or dysfunction through application of modalities and therapeutic exercise with the intention of restoring normal function.
Physiotherapist (PT)
A professional in the field of healthcare who works with patients to help them maintain and improve function and movement of limbs and joints.
Plaintiff
An entity or person who institutes the lawsuit.
Post Traumatic Amnesia
A period after an accident whereby an injured person experiences loss of memory and/or decreased ability to learn or store new information. Post Traumatic Amnesia may last anywhere from a few hours up to several months.
Power of Attorney
Legal authority given to a person to act in behalf of another.
Pre-claim Examination
Even before applying for benefits, some insurance companies may request assessment by healthcare professional of their own choosing. The injured individual may refuse this request.
Prima Facie
In order to avoid lawsuit dismissal, the plaintiff must have the necessary minimum amount of evidence.
Proof
Various types of cases require different degrees of proof. Proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" is required for criminal cases, while most civil cases require a lesser degree of proof.
Psychiatrist
A physician whose specialty lies in the area of prevention and management of behavioral and emotional problems and is authorized to prescribe psychotropic medications.
Psychologist
A professional whose expertise lies in diagnosing, prevention, and management of behavioral and emotional problems but is not authorized to prescribe psychotropic medications.
Punitive Damages
Compensation granted to the plaintiff to punish the defendant for the deliberate malicious behavior.

Q

Quadriplegia
Paralysis from the neck down resulting in the disability of both arms and legs.
Quadriplegic
An individual whose arms and legs are both paralyzed.
Quality of Life
Indicates a person's ability to pursue daily activities, including level of comfort and enjoyment.

R

Ranchos Los Amigos Scale
A medical scale used to assess a person's recovery level; used for brain injury patients and those recuperating from coma.
Range of Motion (ROM)
Refers to the extent of a joint's free movement.
Reasonable Care
The standard level of care exercised in order to avoid injuring other persons.
Recreational Accident
An accident encountered while enjoying leisure activities such as amusement park accident, bicycle accident, swimming pool accident, etc.
Rehab Support Worker
A professional who specializes in rehabilitating injured individuals through establishing independent living and personal care skills, safety and health monitoring as well as community re-integration.
Rehabilitation Benefits
Compensation for rehabilitation expenses due to injuries sustained.
Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits
Under the law, the maximum allowed amount for rehabilitation expense, medical expense, and attendant care expenses.
Retrograde Amnesia
This type of amnesia may occur within a specific span of time and may be particular to certain information that happened before the accident.
Rules of Civil Procedure
Each court jurisdiction has their own set of guidelines under the law that they must follow. Such procedures include standards and rules on how lawsuits may be commenced and the succeeding procedures thereafter.

S

Settlement Agreement
This document contains the terms of an out-of-court agreement.
Skiing Accident
A type of recreational accident that occurs while skiing leading to a personal injury.
Slip and Fall Injury
Sometimes referred to as trip and fall accident. This accident normally concerns older individuals who are usually injured due to hazardous or dangerous conditions.
Slips & Falls
A personal injury that results from tripping, slipping, falling, etc. as a result of a hazard.
Snowmobile Accident
A type of recreational accident involving snowmobiles leading to a personal injury.
Social Worker (SW)
An expert when it comes to financial, social and emotion needs of families and patients, and most often assist in seeking services that are appropriate for what they need.
Special Damages
Damages that has monetary value or equivalent such as repair costs, medical bills, lost earnings, etc.
Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP)
A trained healthcare professional tasked to treat and evaluate individuals who have problems with expression and reading skills, speech, language, writing, hearing, cognition, and attention.
Statement of Claim
This legal document commences a lawsuit and in personal injury cases, indicates a claim by the plaintiff.
Statement of Defense
A defendant's reply to the Statement of Claim intended to challenge or disprove the plaintiffs claim.
Statutory Accident Benefits
Insurance coverage for those involved in an accident regardless of fault. This includes compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, disability income, and death.
Strict Liability
Even without proof of negligence, liability exists. This is often applicable to product manufacturers.
Structured Settlement
Staggered payment or compensation for the plaintiff within a specified duration.
Subpoena
A court order demanding that a person testify or provide certain documents.
Summons
A legal document notifying a party that a lawsuit has commenced. This would include the place and time indicated by the court where the charges against them can be answered.

T

Threshold
A test that must be passed by automobile accident victims in order to have a reasonable chance of winning the lawsuit.
Threshold Test
A medical exam that an accident victim must undergo in order to determine the severity of his or her injuries to qualify for right to compensation.
Tort
Injury or harm inflicted deliberately or otherwise.
Tort Claim
Claim filed against another party for causing injury or harm.
Tortfeasor
The at-fault party
Treatment Plan
Enumerates a physician's recommended treatment course for a patient including tests and medical regimen. This paper must be completed by the physician before implementation so the insurance company can identify which tests and services are covered by the patient's insurance.

U

Underinsured Motorist Coverage
When the at-fault party's insurance coverage is lacking to compensate for injuries of the other party, this type of coverage can pay for damages that were not covered by the at-fault driver's insurance.
Uninsured
When an individual, at the time of the accident, was not insured.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
When the at-fault party is not insured, this type of coverage can compensate for damages inflicted on the victim.

V

Vicarious Liability
When one person is liable for the actions of another person, such as the vicarious liability of a parent over the actions of their children.

W

Willful Negligence
A deliberate act that is intended to injure another person.
Witness
A person who can provide evidence in order to assist a party in a trial.
Wrongful Death
When a death occurs due to negligence of another person.
Wrongful Death Statute
The law that gives right to heirs, close family members, or authorized representative of the deceased to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party responsible for wrongful death.

X

There are no terms beginning with X in our glossary.

Y

There are no terms beginning with Y in our glossary.

Z

There are no terms beginning with Z in our glossary.