Glossary

A

Acceleration-Deceleration Injury
Injury syndromes commonly associated with hyperextension-hyperflexion of the neck. Most often caused by a rear-end auto accident.
Active Range of Motion
Range of motion in the cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, or any other joint of the body which patient does under his or her own power.
Activities of Daily Living or ADL
The normal daily activities and functions a person must perform or fulfill to maintain cleanliness, self-grooming, home maintenance, eating, working and recreation.
Affidavit
A written statement made under oath.
Ambulate
To walk.
Anterior Discectomy and Fusion
The surgical removal of an abnormal intervertebral disc and replacement with bone graft and/or surgical hardware for fusion, using an anterior approach to the spine.
Appeal
A request by a party for a higher court to review a lower court’s decisions.
Atrophy
A wasting or decrease in size, often in reference to muscle tissue.

B

Bad Faith
Actions by an insurer designed to mislead an insured; refusal or negligence of insurer in fulfilling some duty or contractual obligation.

C

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Soreness, tenderness, and weakness of the muscles of the thumb, index and middle fingers caused by pressure on the median nerve at the point at which it goes through the carpal tunnel of the wrist.
Cervical
Referring to the neck. The cervical spine has seven vertebrae (C1 through C-7 which allow for head and neck movement.
Cervicogenic Headache
A headache that originates in the neck.
Chiropractic
A branch of the healing arts focused on human health, disease processes, and physiological and biochemical aspects of the body including structural, spinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, vascular, nutritional, emotional and environmental relationships. Chiropractors do not use medications or surgery. However, nutritional supplementation may be prescribed.
Chronic
A condition of long standing.
Claimant
A person who makes a claim or asserts a right. The plaintiff in a personal injury case may also be known as the claimant.
Cross Claim
A claim brought by the defendant against another defendant in the same lawsuit or a new party not previously named by the plaintiff in the lawsuit, asserting that party is responsible for the plaintiff’s damages.
Cross Examination
The questioning of a witness by the adverse party.

D

Damages
Money or property a court or jury gives to an injured person.
Deductible
An amount of money a person must pay for before their insurance company will begin to pay for any expenses. In personal injury actions, also refers to deduction imposed by the Insurance Act on non-pecuniary general damages and Family Law Act damages. The statutory deductible on the non-pecuniary general damages of an injured person is $30,000.00 on awards of less than $100,000.00. There is no deductible on awards of $100,000.00 or more.
Default Judgment
A judgment entered by the court when a defendant fails to file a Statement of Defense.
Defendant
The party the plaintiff claims is responsible for his/her damages and from whom the plaintiff seeks some form of relief.
Degenerative Changes
Degeneration of any joint due to wear and tear, trauma, or unusual postures. The degenerative changes include discspace narrowing, osteophytes or bony spurring. These type of changes can be seen both on x-ray and MRI imaging.
Degenerative Disc Disease
An intervertebral disc, which has suffered the effects of the aging process or the effects of trauma. A disc becomes degenerated over time, often spanning years.
Degenerative Facet Joints
Facet joints, which, as a result of age and time or trauma, have signs of arthritic changes. The degenerative arthritic changes may include thinning of joint spaces, changes in the joint and cartilage surfaces, and inflammation of the joint and connecting tissues of the joint. Degenerative facet joints may or may not be symptomatic.
Demand Letter
A letter expressly stating a legal right and an amount due as reasonable compensation for injuries to person and/or property.
Direct Examination
The questioning of a witness by the lawyer for the party on whose behalf the witness is called.
Disc Bulge
A broad-based enlargement of the annulus fibrosis extending past the edges of the adjoining vertebral end plates with herniation of the nucleus pulposus into or through the annulus fibrosis.
Discectomy
The surgical removal of the bulging or extruding disc material Discectomy may be done in conjunction with a foraminotomy and/or a fusion.
Discovery
Procedure for examination of documentary and physical evidence, and questioning of witnesses and parties to uncover evidence.

E

Evidence
Testimony, writings, material objects that are admissible and offered by a party to the trier of fact to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact.
Expert Witness
An individual who possesses specialized knowledge through skill, education, training, or experience beyond that of the ordinary person or juror, and whose knowledge will aid the trier of fact (jury or judge in reaching a proper decision. Expert witness in personal injury actions often include physicians, accountants and economists.

F

Fibromyalgia
A syndrome involving diffuse systemic muscle pain. The diagnostic criteria has been defined by the American College of Rheumatology as pain at 11of 18 tender point sites, presence of subcutaneous nodules, and a history of widespread pain for more than three months. Trauma can be a cause of this syndrome.
Functional Ability
Capacity for performing an act that results in a practical end result.
Functional Capacity Evaluation
A series of tests measuring physical strength, range of motion, stamina, and tolerance to functional activities, including lifting and carrying. These tests can be used to evaluate work tolerance, and the necessity for work restrictions.
Fusion
A surgical procedure performed to eliminate spinal pain or immobilize unstable joint segments. Fusion can be used to treat degenerative disc disease and to immobilize injured vertebral segments. A bone graft is placed across a spinal segment which then grows together with the patient’s bone and the area is immobilized. There is a loss of motion between two vertebrae that are fused together.

G

General Damages
Money damages for pain and suffering, disability, or reduction in quality of life.

H

Hearsay
Refers to statements made by persons other than the person testifying. The statement is a mere repetition of what the witness has heard others say out of court, and is offered as proof in the matter on which the witness is testifying.
Herniated Disc
A rupture of the annulus fibrosis, through which the inner disc material extrudes. This may put pressure on the exiting spinal nerve and/or cause an inflammatory reaction leading to radiculopathy or weakness, numbness, and/or tingling in the arms or legs.

I

IME
Insurer’s refer to this as an “independent medical examination.” Lawyers representing injured people refer to this as an “insurance medical examination” or “defense medical examination.”
Impairment
An anatomical, physiological, mental or psychological loss or abnormality. Reduced capacity for functioning. This term may be used in describing the reduction in functions of a single muscle or organ that results in reduced capacity for social and family relations, independent living, or enjoyment of life as the result of some event or illness, including pain.
Insured
A person who purchases an insurance policy or is otherwise covered by it.
Insurer
The underwriter or insurance company with whom a contract of insurance is made.

J

Judgment
A final order which puts an end to a lawsuit. The judgment states the final amount of any monetary award made to a party by a judge or jury, as well as which party must pay for it.
Jury
A group of persons selected from the citizens of a particular county who are to decide a question of fact in a civil case and award damages. In personal injury cases, either party may ask for a jury trial. A civil jury in Ontario consists of six people.

K

There are no terms beginning with K in our glossary.

L

Lawsuit
A claim or cause of action instituted or pending between private persons or entities in a court of law. In order to properly commence a lawsuit, a Statement of Claim must be filed with the court and the defendant must be served or given a copy of the Statement of Claim.
Liability
Responsibility or fault for an incident resulting in injuries and damages to person and/or property.
Lumbar
Relating to the low back. The lumbar spine has five vertebrae stacked on top of the sacrum (L1 - L5.)
Lumbosacral Sprain
An acute injury to the ligaments of the lumbar and sacral spine. It may be associated with an injury to muscles and tendons.

M

Malingerer
A medical-legal term for one who consciously and willfully misrepresents or overstates illness or symptoms in order to escape work duties or school and/or for financial gain.
Malpractice
Misconduct in a professional capacity through negligence, carelessness, lack of skill, or malicious intent.
Mandatory Mediation
The Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure require that the parties in all actions commenced in Windsor complete a three-hour mediation session.
Mediation
A procedure by which an impartial third person meets with all the parties and attempts, in an informal setting, to find common ground so that a compromise can be reached to settle the claim or complaint.
Migraine Headache
A headache caused by excessive dilation of the arteries in the brain. Symptoms include severe head pain, sensitivity to light (photophobia), occasionally sensitivity to smells, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and/or visual disturbances.
Mistrial
Trial which is terminated before its normal conclusion. The judge may declare a mistrial because of some extraordinary event, prejudicial error that cannot be corrected, or because of a hung jury.
Mitigate
To diminish or reduce. An injured party has the duty to mitigate his/her damages, including pain and suffering, by taking reasonable steps to get better.
Motion
A formal written request, submitted by a party to a court on a specific issue, for consideration and resolution.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Pain coming from the muscles and fascia which in turn, is spread out to other areas of the body.

N

Negligence
Failure to exercise ordinary care or caution.
Neurologist
A physician who specializes in treating disorders of the nervous system.
Neuropathy
Dysfunction or disease of a nerve, often manifested by change of sensation and/or muscle strength. Neuropathy can apply to any nerve, including the sympathetic nervous system.
Neuropsychologist
A psychologist who specializes in evaluating brain/behavior relationships, planning training programs to help the person’s brain compensate for cognitive impairment and recommending alternative cognitive strategies to assist with daily functioning.
Neurosurgeon
A physician who specializes in surgery of the brain and nervous system.
Non-pecuniary general damages
Money damages for pain and suffering, disability, or reduction in quality of life.
Nonorganic Pain Behaviors
Patient behaviors to express pain that do not relate to anatomic or organic cause. This phrase is often used by doctors hired by an insurer to conduct a medical examination of an injured person to discredit the patient.

O

Orthopedic Surgery
Surgery of the bony skeleton, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
Osteoarthritis
The most common form of arthritis involving the effects of wear and tear on the body’s structures. In the spine this is a degenerative process that includes spondylosis, spurring of the vertebral bodies, and deterioration of the facet joints. Cartilage degeneration is the hallmark of this type of arthritis.

P

Pain Scale
One method for quantifying pain. There are many different types of pain scales. The most common is a 0-10 scale termed the Visual Analog Scale with 10 as the “most severe” pain.
Party
A person or entity that takes part in a legal proceeding.
Passive Range of Motion
In the spine or extremities, passive range of motion (ROM) is measured in flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation, abduction, adduction, inversion, and aversion. This differs from active range of motion in that the patient uses no voluntary muscle contraction and must be taken through the ROM by the examiner.
Physiatrist
A medical doctor who has completed residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A specialist in rehabilitation and outpatient non-operative orthopedic musculoskeletal care, as well as neurologic rehabilitation, who is trained to diagnose and treat disabling conditions.
Physical Therapist
The physical therapist evaluates components of movement, including muscle strength, muscle tone, posture, coordination, endurance and general mobility. The physical therapist also evaluates the potential for functional movement, such as ability to move in the bed, transfers, and walking; and then proceeds to establish an individualized treatment program to help the person achieve functional independence.
Physical Therapy
Treatment for musculoskeletal and neurological disorders provided by a licensed physical therapist. Usually involving exercise, electrical modalities, and myofascial techniques.
Plaintiff
The party who requests damages and initiates a civil lawsuit.
Pleadings
The formal, written documents filed by the parties with the court which set forth, or elaborate on, their respective claims and defenses.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This is a psychological condition involving emotional and behavioral distress after exposure to a traumatic event or events. Physiologic change such as increased sympathetic nervous system activity, alterations in stress hormones secretion, memory processing and limbic system abnormalities in brain imaging studies of traumatized patients have been shown in significant, longer term cases. Symptoms may include insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, extreme psychological or physical distress when exposed to cues that remind the person of the incident, nightmares, anxiety, exaggerated startle response, numbing of the senses, avoidance of activities or places that bring back memories of the event, among others.
Privilege
Protection against disclosure of information based on communications made in confidence between parties having legally protected relationships. Based on the policy that it is better to have frank, open communications between parties in certain relationships by protecting these communications from disclosure in litigation. Pertains to communications between lawyer/client, doctor/patient, priest/penitent, and husband/wife.
Prognosis
The prospect as to recovery from a disease or injury as indicated by the nature and symptoms of the case.
Proximate Cause
Refers to a cause which leads directly, or in an unbroken sequence, to a particular result. An element of negligence.

Q

There are no terms beginning with Q in our glossary.

R

ROM
Abbreviation for Range of Motion.
Radicular Pain
Pain caused by a radiculopathy or radiculitis.
Radicular Symptoms
Sensations such as pain radiating down arms or legs. Symptoms may involve motor or sensory dysfunction.
Radiculitis
Inflammation of a nerve root causing symptoms of pain in the distribution of that root.
Radiculopathy
Dysfunction of a nerve root that can cause numbness or tingling in a specific pattern corresponding to that nerve root or muscle weakness in the muscles supplied by that nerve, or loss of reflex associated with that nerve.
Range of Motion or ROM
The range of movement of a joint or a spinal area that is measured and compared to normal. Restrictions in the range of motion of a joint or spinal area indicates some type of dysfunction.
Referred Pain
Pain that originates in one part of the body, but is felt in another part of the body.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
A clinically determined syndrome characterized by burning, atrophy, hypersensitivity, temperature changes in the affected area, and decreased range of motion. The cause is usually trauma. This has recently been renamed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Rehabilitation
Comprehensive program to reduce/overcome deficits following injury or illness and to assist the individual to attain the optimal level of mental and physical ability.
Release
Waiver, relinquishment, or giving up a right, claim, or demand.
Rotator Cuff Impingement
Compression of any of the rotator cuff or tendonous fibers at the shoulder joint underneath the supraspinatus tendon.
Rules of Evidence
Rules of law which determine which testimony, documents, etc. should be submitted for consideration by a judge or a jury, and the weight such evidence is to be given in determining a question of fact.

S

Settlement
A final resolution of a claim by agreement between the parties.
Soft Tissue
A surgical procedure to form a bony bridge between two or more spinal vertebrae to eliminate movement over painful or unstable spinal segments.
Spasm
A painful involuntary, sustained contraction of a muscle, due to irritation.
Special Damages
Fixed costs or expenses attributable to any injury or loss, including past, present, and future income loss, treatment costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Statute
Written law enacted by the legislature.
Statute of Limitations
Laws enacted by every province which govern the time frame when a lawsuit must be filed, and beyond which the claim can no longer be made.
Subjective
A finding on any exam that is reported by the patient and is dependent on patient report for its reliability.
Summary Judgment
A procedure by which one party seeks to persuade the court that there is no genuine issue or controversy regarding material facts, and accordingly, that the party filing the motion is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.
Superior Court of Justice
The court in Ontario which has original jurisdiction for personal injury lawsuits.
Symptom Magnification
The reporting of symptoms by a patient which are greater than would be expected.

T

Testimony
A formal statement, by a party or witness in a case under oath. Statement may be verbal or written.
Threshold
The term used to describe the restriction on lawsuits arising from motor vehicle accident imposed by the Insurance Act. In order to recover non-pecuniary general damages or damages for health care expenses a plaintiff must prove that he/she has sustained either a permanent serious disfigurement or a permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function as a result of the motor vehicle accident.
Tort
Body of law which determines rights and liabilities when property is damaged or a person is injured, through negligent or intentional conduct.
Tortfeasor
One who has committed a tort.
Traumatic Brain Injury
An injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head, penetrating head injury, or by being violently shaken, that disrupts the function of the brain. Such an injury can change how a person acts, moves, communicates, and thinks.
Trial
Judicial examination and determination of legal and factual issues between the parties to an action. In a trial by jury the jury decides questions of fact with the judge determining the law to be applied. In a trial by judge, the judge decides both the facts and the law to be applied.
Trier of Fact
The decision maker who will hear the evidence and decide the outcome of a claim. Can be a judge or jury at trial.

U

There are no terms beginning with U in our glossary.

V

Verdict
The definitive answer given by the jury concerning the issues the judge asked them to resolve.
Vertebra
One of the twenty-four (24) bones that make up the spine. There are three types: cervical (seven in number), thoracic (twelve), and lumbar (five), with each section possessing unique characteristics.
Vocational Rehabilitation or VR
Services and supports that help a person with disabilities get a job, go to school, or get a volunteer position. For example, job counseling, computer training, and help finding a job. All states receive federal funding to run vocational rehabilitation programs. These are places people with disabilities can go to and request free VR services and speak to job counselors.

W

Waiver
A knowing, intelligent, and voluntary surrender of a known right or claim.
Whiplash Injury
A sprain or strain syndrome of the cervical spine caused by a hyperextension-hyperflexion or acceleration - deceleration injury. This most commonly occurs in car collisions.
Witness
Someone with knowledge pertaining to the facts of the case.

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.
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