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LNCtips.com: Legal Lingo - 7 More Terms


As a new legal  nurse consultant, you'll hear unfamiliar legal terms. In addition to the words identified in LNCtips' original Legal Lingo, here are seven more legal terms that will help you understand medical malpractice lingo.

1) Cause of Action. A cause of action is a legal claim for which the plaintiff asks for compensation. In medical malpractice, causes of action are alleged deviations in the standards of care by nurses, physicians, or other healthcare providers which result in damages to plaintiffs.

2) Demand. A demand is a claim by a plaintiff that compensation is due from the defendant. For example, the plaintiff may send a demand letter requesting the defendant's policy limits in medical malpractice cases. If the defendant carries $250,000 in medical malpractice insurance, the plaintiff demands $250,000 in compensation. A demand is often the first step in the negotiation process to settle the case.

3) Personal Representative. A personal representative is a person (often a spouse or adult child) who is designated to manage the estate of a deceased person. Many state authorize personal representatives to file claims for medical malpractice and nursing home negligence.

4) Wrongful Death. Claims for wrongful death assert that the patient's death occurred because of negligence by healthcare providers. Family member personal representatives file wrongful death claims to get compensation in place of the deceased patient's earnings and emotional support.

5) Trial Orders. A trial order is a decision by the court that specifies a trial date. In medical malpractice cases, trial orders also specify the last date of discovery and the last date to depose experts.

6) Notice. In some states, such as Florida and Ohio, prospective plaintiffs provide written notices to prospective defendants of the intent to file a medical malpractice suit. Another common type of notice are notices of deposition, which identifies where and when each fact and expert witnesses will be deposed.

7) Video Deposition. A video deposition is sworn testimony that is presented by a fact or expert witness while being videotaped. In medical malpractice cases, plaintiffs who are dying may ask for a video deposition so that a future jury can see the effects of the alleged negligence. Experts sometimes request video depositions due to conflicts with scheduled trials.

...Katy Jones