Some Legal Terms Related to Medical Negligence Claims

Generally, the legal terms are not easy to understand for the common people. So before we go into the details of medical negligence, it is better to be familiar with some related legal terms.


When a person fails to exercise the level of care which a reasonable person would have exercised in a particular situation, and that failure results in an injury, he or she has committed negligence. The defendant’s negligence must be the legal cause of your injuries for you to recover damages from him or her. In other words, if the defendant did not commit any negligent acts or omissions then there can be no liability for negligence attributed to him. For instance, if a doctor gives the wrong medication which injures you because you are allergic to that medicine but it turns out later after treatment that you were not allergic at all, then, there was no negligence because it is not clear that the doctor had acted improperly in prescribing the medicine.


The wrongful act or omission by a doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, hospital, or other health care provider results in injury to the patient.


To hear and determine (a legal action).


To institute or carry on legal action against another; to seek to enforce by legal proceedings.

Subject matter jurisdiction:

Authority of a court to hear and decide cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong. Subject-matter jurisdiction is distinguished from personal or territorial jurisdiction, including both subject-matter and territorial limits on the powers of federal courts. For example, an American Court has no general power to try murder charges nor can it consider divorce petitions under its subject matter jurisdiction. A state’s supreme court, however, does have such authority over many matters within its borders.


A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. A legal document that sets forth relevant information in support of a position and is presented as evidence in court proceedings.

Malpractice Insurance:

Insurance coverage for a doctor against claims arising from the inadequate professional treatment of patients under his care. The insurance provides compensation for patients who suffer injury or financial losses due solely to a doctor’s negligence or errors in judgment. Physicians buy malpractice insurance either individually or through membership with a group policy issued by an insurer specializing in medical liability coverage. The American Medical Association offers physicians resources on obtaining this type of healthcare insurance.


An assertion or declaration of a fact made by one party to a controversy with an intent to invoke judicial action.


The person who initially brings the lawsuit before the court seeking relief from another person for injuries sustained due to that other person’s negligent or intentional acts/omissions. Generally, it is also a crime victim in a criminal case.


A person being sued for damages related to some form of alleged wrongdoing. In most civil cases, the defendant is simply accused of having harmed someone else and he has been served with papers requiring him either to pay compensation or appear at trial. The defendant may be just about anyone except for 1) governmental entities;) certain persons lacking capacity under the law to be sued; and, 2) minors or someone under a disability.

Plaintiff’s Attorney:

A person who represents an injured plaintiff in pursuing civil damages against another party for personal injury claims. Plaintiff attorneys are usually licensed to practice law in the specific state where they’re representing their clients. They may receive either a percentage of their client’s award (usually a contingent fee) or an hourly rate for their services.


A legal doctrine prevents a person from denying or asserting something contrary to what has already been established as truth by his own words or conduct. For instance, if one testifies under oath during litigation that he saw someone commit a crime, he would be precluded later on from asserting that he did not actually see it happen.

Estoppel by deed:

Suppose, for example, that you are building a house on some land belonging to someone else. You enter into an agreement with the landowner under which he gives you permission to use his land and in return promises never to interfere with your possession of the house. If you discover years later that there is no valid title in your name, then by virtue of the doctrine of estoppel by deed, the owner is precluded from taking back this piece of property originally entrusted to you. He is also barred from asserting defects in his own title even if they would have gone undetected had you taken out regular title insurance at the closing. doctrine can apply when one party has given a “deed” asserting facts – oral or written statements – that are false and which have been relied upon by the other party to his detriment.


An agreement between two or more people (also known as parties) in which certain specified terms and conditions are stated and each party agrees to give something of value to the party in exchange for receiving whatever is being offered by the other.

Legal Capacity:

The legal ability to perform certain actions, such as entering into a contract or suing. Legal capacity is often defined by age and other factors, such as insanity (being declared mentally incompetent) or fraud (knowingly lying about material facts). For example, if you make a deal with someone who has no authority to enter contracts on his own behalf because he’s a minor, your agreement may be unenforceable against him even though he agreed to it; it would consequently be invalid and you would not have to give him what you promised in return for his promise. Since minors do not have the same type of “capacity” as adults do under the law to conduct business transactions involving large amounts of money, someone contracting with a minor may be held liable under the law for fraud.


A legal term encompassing both libel (written statements about someone that are published and therefore can easily be distributed to others) and slander (spoken statements that damage another person’s reputation). Any such statement that is untrue or partially untrue – even if it was told in error or jest – will subject the one who made it to liability for having given rise to this tort. For instance, if you tell people something about your neighbor that isn’t true – say, that he has swindled his customers out of thousands of dollars by making false claims about his products – you might face potential lawsuits either him or them depending on the circumstances and the extent to which they can prove that your statements were indeed false and that their reputations have been tarnished as a result. Beyond actual damages, there is also the possibility of receiving “punitive” damages if you maliciously made your statement knowing full well that it was untrue or with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity (i.e., you didn’t bother to check whether it was true before saying it).

Apgar Score:

The Apgar score is a method for assessing the physical condition of an infant, based on appearance, pulse, activity, respiration. It has been in use since 1952.

Self Defense:

A person is allowed to use reasonable force when he defends himself against attack by another or when he tries to protect someone else from bodily harm that appears imminent. He may also do so when trying to prevent certain crimes involving violence – such as robbery or burglary – provided that his actions are necessary to stop the crime and not excessive given the circumstances. This right does not extend to using force intended to cause death or serious injury unless there are exceptional circumstances that justify doing so (i.e., if it’s necessary in order to prevent one’s own death or serious injury, or if the assailant has used his own weapon in such a way as to endanger his life).

Wrongful Death:

Death caused by negligence (doing something wrong) – such as driving under the influence of alcohol and causing an auto accident that kills another person – can lead to civil lawsuits for wrongful death. This type of lawsuit is brought by family members who have lost a loved one and it’s intended solely to compensate them for their loss and not meant to punish the wrongdoer even though he may face criminal penalties as well. The family members bringing this type of legal action are usually those entitled under state law to recover damages from someone else’s estate if they were killed as a result of negligent conduct on his part (such as a widow, widower, and children of the decedent). It is not necessary under the law for these family members to have been financially dependent on the person who was killed in order to be entitled to file such a lawsuit. In addition, they can recover damages for the loss of their loved one’s “society,” companionship, and comfort even if he or she wasn’t supporting them.

In addition, spouses have been given special legal rights when it comes to suing for wrongful death based on the idea that there should be a financial penalty in this type of situation when a husband or wife is killed in an automobile accident caused by someone else’s negligence. This has led many states in recent years to pass no-fault legislation.

Hope this article has given you a clear concept of some legal terms that are often used while dealing with medical negligence cases. Yet, if there is any matter that seems too difficult for you to handle, then it is better to contact medical negligence solicitors in Dublin


In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with Reg.8 of SI 518 of 2002.