Common Legal Terminology

The Medical Work Product provides your client attorneys with an invaluable tool in determining the merits of a claim. Defendant attorneys utilize these work products as a quick reference to medical information related to specific subjects. 

Before a Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) begins an analysis of the medical records they should review the legal documents which have been provided. Legal records are the foundation or starting point for any work product; and should be reviewed first to gain an understanding of the allegations and claimed injury. For the LNC, an understanding of terms used in those records is a tool for understanding and preparing a quality work product.

Adverse Event (AE)
An adverse event is an undesirable condition caused by the use of a product (Product Example: medication, device, tobacco).

Causation means a person or entity’s action or omission proximately caused the injury alleged by the plaintiff. The key word here is proximately. For analyzing purposes, it means there is a continuous chain of events. While there may be more than one cause of the alleged injury, in most jurisdictions the plaintiff must prove that “but for” the defendant’s action or omission, the plaintiff would not have suffered the alleged injury.

In product liability, a claim is a demand or request for compensation from the manufacturer for alleged injuries caused by the product at issue. A claim becomes a lawsuit once the claimant files a Complaint in a court of law.

Typically, once a demand is denied, the claimant files a complaint in a court. This claimant now becomes a plaintiff. A complaint is a pleading document filed by a plaintiff in a court of law that states the facts of the case, the legal basis for the lawsuit (or cause of action), the alleged wrongdoing of the defendant, the injury that resulted from the wrongdoing, and the damages sought by the plaintiff.

The person who has died. In some cases, the lawsuit is brought by the personal representative or next-of-kin of the decedent.

The party sued by the plaintiff. There can be more than one defendant.

Deposition is the process of giving under-oath and out-of-court oral statements before the trial date in the presence of a court recorder. It is part of discovery and deposition testimonies can be used during trial. Persons who are deposed are the parties involved in the lawsuit (plaintiff(s) and defendant(s)), fact witnesses involved, and expert witnesses retained by either party. In the presence of the opposing attorney, the deposing attorney will ask a series of questions to the witness (the person being deposed).

Discovery is the legal procedure done after filing suit, but before the actual trial in which the plaintiff and defense exchange relevant information regarding the case. As the name implies, it’s meant to discover information from each party through depositions, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents.

Injury is the harm suffered by the person, including (1) physical harm, such as disfigurement, additional surgery; (2) pain and suffering such as mental anguish, depression, anxiety; (3) loss of past and future income; (4) loss of enjoyment of life; (5) loss of consortium; (6) death, etc. In lawsuits, injuries are allegations and must be proved to a judge and/or jury.

Legal Records
The Complaint, Plaintiff Fact Sheet, Plaintiff Profile Form, Authorizations, and Interrogatories are the most common examples of legal documents received.

Loss of consortium
This is a claim filed by the spouse of the plaintiff for his or her loss of benefit of spousal affection and sexual relations.

A plaintiff is the person or party who filed a lawsuit in a court of law. For deceased subjects, the plaintiff is usually the spouse or an adult child of the decedent acting as the personal representative of the estate of the decedent.

Products Liability
A products liability lawsuit refers to a lawsuit filed by a consumer typically against the manufacturer of the product based on design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to warn against a product’s latent danger.

An out-of-court agreement reached by opposing parties to resolve the dispute. If there is already a pending lawsuit, the plaintiff withdraws the lawsuit and the plaintiff waives the right to file another lawsuit for the same matter. In settlement, there is typically no admission of wrongdoing. Settlements can occur before a suit is filed and even after a verdict is rendered.

A decision made by a judge or jury in a court of law about a disputed issue. In criminal cases, it’s guilty or not guilty. In medical malpractice, it’s negligent or not negligent. In products liability, it’s whether the product was defective or whether the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the dangerous side effects, etc.

Work Product
Confidential materials prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial.