Glossary of Terms

Personal Injury Lawyer Glossary Of Terms

Some of the everyday terms used in the medical, legal and insurance professions are not necessarily commonplace to the general public. When dealing with these professionals, the words and terms they use can sound like a foreign language to some of us.

Below are some medical and legal terms which you may find useful:

Accident Benefits: Benefits in the form of money or assistance provided to persons injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who is at fault. Types of accident benefits include: medical and rehabilitation expenses such as equipment, treatment, or therapy, attendant care, income replacement benefits, housekeeping expenses.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL): Routine activities carried out for personal hygiene and health (including bathing, dressing, feeding) and for operating a household.

Adjuster: one who investigates insurance claims or claims for damages and recommends an effective settlement.

Ambulation: Ability to walk.

Aphasia: Loss of the ability to express oneself and/or to understand language caused by damage to the brain.

Apraxia: Inability to carry out a complex or skilled movement not due to paralysis, sensory changes or deficiencies in understanding.

Arbitration: A process for deciding a legal dispute out of court; a substitute for an ordinary trial.

Ataxia: A problem of muscle coordination caused by a brain lesion. Can interfere with a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, and perform other self-care tasks.

Atrophy: A wasting away or decrease in size of a cell, tissue, organ or part of the body due to lack of nourishment or loss of nerve supply.

Attendant Care: Attendant Care is any action to assist a person with a disability in accomplishing activities of daily living. These cover a broad spectrum of activities including bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, transferring, mobility, cooking, cleaning, laundering, dispensing of routine medications and similar tasks. Primarily, these are tasks that the individual is unable to physically perform or has a great deal of difficulty doing.

Case Manager (CM): A rehabilitation professional who coordinates rehabilitation services following an injury.

Cerebellum: The portion of the brain (located at the back) which helps coordinate movement.

Closed Head Injury: Trauma to the head which doesn’t penetrate or fracture the skull but which damages the brain.

Cognition: The conscious process of knowing, becoming or being aware of thoughts or perceptions, including understanding and reasoning.

Coma: A state of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be aroused, even by powerful stimulation

Contingency fee: Any fee for services provided where the fee is only payable if there is a favorable result.

CT Scan: A series of x-rays taken at different levels of the brain that allows the direct visualization of intracranial structures.

Damages: The estimated money equivalent for detriment or injury sustained.

Deductible: A clause in an insurance policy that relieves the insurer of responsibility to pay the initial loss up to a stated amount.

Defendant: A person or corporation against whom a claim or charge is brought in a court.

Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI): A shearing of large nerve fibres in many areas of the brain rather than one specific location.

Disorientation: Not knowing where you are, who you are or the current date.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): A procedure that uses electrodes on the scalp to record electrical activity of the brain.

Frontal Lobe: Front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality, and a variety of higher cognitive functions.

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS): A standardized system used to assess the degree of brain impairment and to identify the seriousness of an injury in relation to outcome.

Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS): A system for classifying the outcome of head injury survivors. Relates to functional independence and not residual deficits.

Hemiparesis: Weakness on one side of the body.

Judgement: Process of forming an opinion, based on an evaluation of the situation at hand in comparison with personal values, preferences and insights.

Limitation Period: a time period after which a lawsuit cannot be brought.

Medical Malpractice: An act or omission by a health care provider which deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and which causes injury to the patient.

Occipital Lobe: Area in the back of the brain whose primary function is processing visual information. Damage to this area can cause visual deficits.

Occupational Therapist (OT): A registered healthcare professional that works to retrain those with injuries to resume the self care activities important to daily living as well as evaluation, training and adaptations to increase function in vocational role.

Paraplegia: Complete paralysis of the lower half of the body including both legs, usually caused by damage to the spinal cord.

Parietal Lobe: Damage to right lobe can cause visual-spatial deficits. Damage to the left lobe may disrupt a patient’s ability to understand spoken and/or written language.

Physical Therapy (PT) or Physiotherapy: The treatment of physical dysfunction or injury by the use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities, intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development.

Physiotherapist (PT): A registered healthcare professional who works to maintain and improve the movement and function of joints and limbs.

Plaintiff: The party that institutes a suit in a court. The person or entity the plaintiff sues is the defendant.

Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA): A period of hours, days, weeks or months after the injury when the patient exhibits a loss of day-to-day memory. The patient is unable to store new information and has a decreased ability to learn.

Psychiatrist: A physician who specializes in the prevention and management of emotional and behavioural problems with various means including the prescription of psychotropic medication.

Psychologist: An expert in the diagnosis, management and prevention of emotional and behavioural problems who has a doctoral level education.

Quadriplegia: Paralysis of all four limbs or of the entire body below the neck.

Ranchos Los Amigos Scale: A medical scale intended to assess the level of recovery of brain injury patients and those recovering from coma. It is named after the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles.

Range of Motion (ROM): Refers to movement of a joint and is important to prevent contractures.

Rehab Support Worker: A rehab professional who assists or instructs injured persons in the development of independent living and personal care skills, monitoring health and safety needs and providing structured outings in the community to assist in reintegration.

Retrograde Amnesia: Inability to recall events prior to the accident. May be a specific span of time or type of information.

Social Worker (SW): Expert in the social, emotional, and financial needs of families and patients. They often help locate services that are needed.

Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP): A regulated healthcare professional responsible for the evaluation and treatment of problems with speech and language, auditory, cognitive (comprehension), attention, writing, reading and expression skills.

Temporal Lobes: Right temporal lobe is mainly involved in visual memory. Left temporal lobe is mainly involved in verbal memory.

Tort: Damage, injury, or a wrongful act done wilfully, negligently, or in circumstances involving strict liability, but not involving breach of contract, for which a civil suit can be brought.

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