Medical Negligence Jargon Buster

Before the event insurance

An insurance premium taken out to cover legal costs in the event that any person covered has an accident or, in some cases, has suffered lack of proper medical treatment. Often attached to other policies of insurance, including motor policies, motor recovery policies, household contents policies, buildings policies and credit card policies.

Burden of Proof

In civil cases including personal injury, the Claimant carries the burden or proof. In the first instance, it is for the Claimant to prove the case and the factual matrix (who, when, where, how?)


In a personal injury claim there must be a causal link between the opponent’s breach of duty and the resulting injury. This is known as “causation”. You have to prove that the incident caused the injury – sometimes very easy but not always, e.g. preexisting back injury.


The person making a claim at court.

Collective Conditional Fee Agreement

An agreement between a firm of solicitors and a bulk user of legal services e.g. a trade union (who are less vulnerable than lay clients) which works in a similar way to a Conditional Fee Agreement.


Money paid to make up for damage or loss caused. In a personal injury claim, the principle purpose is to put the Claimant in the position he/she would have been in had the injury not occurred.

Conditional Fee Agreement

Otherwise known as a “no win-no fee” agreement. A formal written agreement between a solicitor and client meaning that the solicitors’ costs are not payable if the client does not “win” the case (in most cases, win means securing compensation).


The name for money awarded by a court as compensation


A written statement (pleading) by the defendant setting out the facts that the defendant will rely on.


A person, company, other legal entity defending a court action which has been taken against them. Usually their insurance company will deal with the claim and appoint. Solicitors if the case is issued at Court.


A payment made by a professional person, such as a solicitor or accountant, on behalf of a client. The money is claimed back by including it on the bill for
professional services which is sent to the client. E.g a Court fee or fee for a medical report.

Expert Witness

An expert in a particular field who is called to give an opinion in a court case. They can be appointed by the Claimant, Defendant or jointly.

General Damages

In personal injury cases, general damages are an element of the overall
compensation awarded which cover pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Interlocutory proceedings

The first things to be done before a civil case comes to trial. They include pleading (preparing the formal written statement) and discovery (stating the documents, under
one party’s control, which are relevant to the case and making them available to the other party) so that there are no surprises when the trial starts.


An inquest is inquisitorial, rather than adversarial. The sole purpose of the inquest is to determine as far as possible the identity of the deceased and where, when and
how he or she came to die. These findings are then recorded on the inquisition form at the conclusion of the inquest. The inquest is not a mechanism for apportioning
blame for the death. Indeed, the verdict at an inquest must not be expressed in such a way as to appear to determine criminal liability on the part of a named person or
civil liability. Ask us for a copy of our Guide to Inquests.

Judgement in Default

Getting a judgement against a party because they failed to do something such as file a Defence.

Judicial Review

Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

Judicial reviews are a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.


A person involved in a civil claim


Taking legal action through the courts


The age when a person gains full legal rights and responsibilities. In the UK it is when a person becomes 18 years old. They need someone to bring the claim for them as a Litigation Friend.


Someone who has not yet reached the age when they get full legal rights and
responsibilities. In the UK this is a person under 18 years old.


Lack of proper care to do a duty properly. Done by someone who owes you a duty e.g. another driver on the road.

Part 36 offer

A formal offer made by a Claimant or a Defendant in an attempt to settle a claim. Secret from the court. If such an offer is rejected but the court subsequently awards the same or less, the party which rejected it can be penalised with an. Adverse Costs Order. Named after Part 36 of the Civil Procedural Rules.


Statements of the facts prepared by both sides in a civil case. Each side gives the other its pleadings so that they are both aware of what arguments will be used during the trial. This term was replaced with ‘statement of case’ in April 1999 but is still used from day to day.

Registered office

The official address where documents can be served on a company.

Small claims Court/small claims track

A section of the county court which deals with small claims. There is a simplified way of making a claim in the county court in a civil case where the claim is for no more than £5000 (or £1000 in personal injury cases). Neither side can claim costs.

Smith v Manchester

A type of award made in some personal injury cases to compensate the Claimant for disadvantage on the open labour market. Named after a case for a Mrs Smith many years ago.


A professional person who can deal with legal matters for the public and give advice on legal matters. All solicitors are listed on the roll of solicitors kept by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Special Damages

For losses that can be quantified, such as out-of-pocket expenses or earnings lost
during the period between the injury and the hearing of the action.

Standard of Proof

In a civil case, this is “on the balance of probabilities”, which is a much lower
standard than in a criminal case. The Claimant must prove that the
proposition/allegation is more likely than not to be correct. Another way of looking at it is in percentage terms, i.e. 51% or more.


An Act of Parliament.


Doing something which harms someone else. A “civil wrong”. It may result in a claim for damages.


Someone who commits a tort.


An examination of the evidence in a case and the law which applies. Conducted by a District Judge or a Trial Judge.


A promise which can be enforced by law such as a promise made by one of the
parties or by their counsel during legal proceedings


The decision at the end of a case.

Vicarious Liability

A situation where someone becomes responsible under the law for wrongs done by someone else. This often happens when an employee does something wrong while at work which becomes the employer’s responsibility (such as an employee working negligently and causing someone else to be hurt because of the negligence).

Without Prejudice

When written on a document, the document cannot be shown to the court.


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What others say about us

Extremely happy with the outcome of my Personal Injury Claim and can only thank Paul McCarthy and his team at EAD Solicitors and also Tim Trotman my barrister arranged by EAD, for all their work and efforts on my behalf. As such I would highly recommend EAD to anyone in need of their service. Once again thanks to all involved.
Brodie Martin, Merseyside
Excellent, very professional, approachable when I needed advice. I would just like to say thank you to your staff.
Robert Adams, West Midlands

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