Personal Injury Jargon Buster

Accident claim

The process of claiming monetary compensation for any injury or loss that you may have suffered as a result of an accident that was not your fault.

After the Event (ATE) Insurance

Insurance cover that is taken out to cover potential legal costs arising from accident, disease or other events after the problem arises. See also Before the Event (BTE) Insurance.

Asbestos

A mineral that can be made into a material that is resilient to heat, electrical and chemical damage and has good sound absorbing qualities.  As a result it was extremely popular as a building material and for use in electrical applications before it was discovered that it can cause severe health problems.

Exposure to asbestos can cause many different disabling lung diseases including a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.

Asbestosis

A chronic medical condition affecting the lungs caused by the inhalation and retention of asbestos fibres. Sufferers can experience severe shortness of breath and have increased risk of lung cancer, especially mesothelioma.

Asthma

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Symptons include chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.  Asthma can be brought on by exposure to and inhalation of harmful chemicals, dusts, gases or substances.

Asthmagen

Any substance that is known to cause asthma.

Barrister

A specialist lawyer specialising in representing clients in court, drafting legal documents and giving expert legal opinions.

Before the Event (BTE) insurance

Insurance cover that is taken out to cover potential legal costs arising from accidents, diseases or other events before the problem arises. See also After the Event (ATE) Insurance.

Carcinogen

A substance that is directly involved in causing cancer.

Case Management Conference

A case management conference is a court hearing to decide issues that the parties cannot agree upon.  They can take place at any time after court proceedings have been issued until it reaches trial.  A case management conference may take place to agree directions (next steps), to appoint an expert in a case, to discuss evidence and so on. Your lawyer will usually represent you so it is unlikely you will need to attend in person, although you may be involved via the telephone.

The purpose of the conference is to bring an issue to a head, so they sometimes result in one party making an offer to settle.  If accepted this will bring your case to a conclusion before it reaches trial.

Claim

The process of claiming damages for any injury or loss that you may have suffered.

Claimant

The party making a claim in the Courts.

Claim form

The form used to commence proceedings in the High Court or the County Court.

Compensation

A sum of money paid to make amends for causing loss, injury or inconvenience.

Contributory Negligence

Where the actions of the claimant were partly to blame for the damage suffered.  The amount of blame is measured as a % which is then deducted from any damages that may be awarded to the claimant.

Conditional Fee Agreement

This is commonly called a ‘no win no fee’ agreement.  At the beginning of the case you agree with your solicitor that if your case is not successful then they will not charge you for their work.  There may be other costs that will have to be paid, such as the other party’s costs and any third party disbursement costs.  These costs can (and should) be covered by the client taking out an insurance policy.

Congenial Employment Loss

This is an additional type of damages that could be claimed if you have a job that provides you with particular satisfaction that you can no longer pursue as a result of an accident or injury.  Examples of jobs that someone might consider congenial might be those they have specifically trained to do, such as a vocational profession like a teacher, a doctor or a fire fighter or something that required them to develop a particular skill set in order to pursue, such as a professional sportsman.

Costs Budget

All parties (except clients without lawyers) must file with the court and exchange with the other parties costs budgets in which they must provide an estimate of the costs that are likely to be incurred at each stage in the litigation process. The budgets must be filed with the parties directions questionnaire or 21 days before the first case management conference. The budget must be verified by a statement of truth.

Costs Management Conference

A costs management conference is any court hearing which is convened solely for the purpose of costs management, for example, to approve a revised budget (all parties, with the exception of clients without lawyers, have to file and exchange budgets setting out their estimated costs for each stage in the proceedings).  They are normally conducted by your lawyer via telephone or in person.

Counter-Claim

A claim made by a defendant in response to a claim.  The full details of the defendant’s opposition to the claim and their own claim against the claimant in response should be set out on the defence form, which would have been sent by the court with the original claim.

Court Fees

Charges made by the court.  There is a fee for issuing a claim, based on the potential value of the claim, plus additional charges for applications made at various stages during the claim. Both sides will incur court fees (and other costs) and the losing party has to pay all reasonable fees (and other costs) unless otherwise directed by the court.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency (CICA)

A government organisation that pays compensation to people who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the blameless victim of a violent crime.

Damages

Another term for compensation.

Dermatitis

Industrial dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction of the skin caused (or aggravated) by regular contact with irritant substances, such as cleaning materials, cement dust or pesticides, in the course of employment.

Disbursements

This is a fee that a solicitor has to pay to someone on your behalf, for instance a payment for a medical report or an expert’s opinion.

Discovery of Documents (Disclosure)

The mutual exchange of evidence and all relevant information held by each party relating to the case.

Expert Witness

A person who gives evidence on a subject based on their expertise in that field.

Filing

A term for the process of sending or handing documents to the court.  For instance, when a claim form is sent to the court it is referred to as having been filed.

Final Hearing/Trial

The hearing following which the judge will make a decision on the claim.

General Damages

Money paid to compensate for pain and suffering, disability or reduction in quality of life as a consequence of injuries suffered. Also referred to as Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity (PSLA).  (see also special damages)

Interim payments

A sum of money paid in part settlement of a claim.  If the defendant admits blame early on then they may send a payment to help the claimant in certain circumstances, for instance if the claimant’s car has been written off and they need a replacement to get to work.

Legal Counsel

Another term for barrister.

Legal expenses insurance (LEI)

A type of insurance which covers the holder against the potential costs of legal action brought against them.  The two main forms of insurance policy are after the event (ATE) and before the event (BTE).

Limitation

There is a time limit within which any claim for compensation must be brought. This is known as the limitation period. In personal injury matters this period is either three years from the date of the accident or incident giving rise to the claim or three years from the date of knowledge.

The date of knowledge is when the claimant first had knowledge of the following:

  • that the injury was significant;
  • that the injury was wholly or partly caused by an act or failing on the defendant’s part;
  • of the defendant’s identity;

and if it is alleged that the injury was caused by someone other than the defendant

  • of the identity of that person and any relevant additional facts.

For children the three year period begins on the date of their eighteenth birthday.

Locus standi

A right to be heard in court.

Loss of Earnings

A claim for loss of wages as a result of injury or disease suffered at the fault of another.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a form of asbestos related cancer.

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)

The MIB was established in 1946 to compensate people injured in road traffic accidents where the driver causing the accident either cannot be found or is uninsured.

Negligence

Failure to fulfil a duty of care not to cause an accident or disease.

No Win No Fee Agreement

See Conditional Fee Agreement.

Part 36 offer

A Part 36 Offer is an attempt to set out terms which will bring the claim to a conclusion.  It is made under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules, hence the name.  Such an offer can be put forward by either the claimant or defendant.

The date of expiry of the offer is normally 21 days.

If the party receiving the offer refuses it and later fails to beat the offer in court, they may be instructed to pay the legal costs of the offering party from the date that the offer was made.

Particulars of claim

This is a document setting out what claims are being made against the defendant and what remedies are sought.

Party / Parties

People involved in court proceedings either as the claimant(s) or defendant(s).

Pleural Plaques

Pleural plaques are localised scars that form as a result of exposure to asbestos.  Normally, pleural plaque is found in the parietal pleura (on the inside of the diaphragm), but in very rare cases they also can be found near the ribcage.  They may not necessarily cause any disability in themselves but are indicative of asbestos exposure and that some more serious asbestos related disease may develop.

Pleural plaques in isolation are not currently compensatable.

Pleural Thickening

Inflammation and scarring caused by asbestos exposure which can cause breathing restriction and loss of lung function. It can progress and become disabling. There is also an increased risk of contracting the deadly asbestos cancer called mesothelioma.

Pre-trial Checklist

A checklist completed before the trial to remind the Judge and the parties of the issues to be determined.  The checklist will then be reviewed at a pre-trial review.

Pre-trial Review

A meeting shortly before the final hearing at which the Judge considers the issues before finalising the final hearing date.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) / Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD)

A range of painful conditions of the muscles, tendons and other soft tissues caused by repetitive use of part of the body.

Road Traffic Accident

Term covering accidents involving motor vehicles, pedal cycles and other road users as well as injuries to pedestrians.

Schedule of Special Damages

A list setting out all the special damages for which compensation is claimed.

Special Damages

Money paid to cover past and future out-of-pocket costs, such as loss of earnings, damage to a vehicle, medication, clothing, travel costs, etc. (see also general damages)

Subpoena

A document which requires a person to do something.  For instance a subpoena may be issued to require a person to attend a trial as a witness.

Third Party Insurance

Compulsory vehicle insurance to cover people other than the insured when an accident occurs, e.g. passengers, other road users and pedestrians.

Tinnitus

A buzzing in the ears as a result of deafness or hearing damage.  Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom with a number of causes.  The common causes are age related, trauma or noise induced, for instance exposure to loud noises without protection.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) / Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

A condition which affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm.  It is caused by prolonged use of vibrating hand held machinery.

Witness statement

A signed written statement summarising the oral (spoken) evidence that a witness would, if called, give at trial.

If you would like to know more about making a compensation claim for a personal injury then please contact Simon, James (Jim)  or James for free confidential advice on 01752 668246, or if you prefer simply click here to arrange your free initial compensation claim meeting.

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Simon Jessett
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James Bedford
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