More Legal Lingo


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When is a request not a question or inquiry? In legal lingo, a request might really be a demand. As a new legal nurse consultant, legal terms can be confusing.  Here are seven legal terms and abbreviations to help you with legal lingo.

1)  Requests.  In medical malpractice law, requests are often demands, such as requests for production of medical records from another party in the lawsuit.  The other party must either comply with the request or object to it.  If the other party objects, the requesting party may file a motion for the judge to compel the party to provide the medical records.

2) Claimant.  A claimant is a party that makes a claim against other persons or entities.  In medical malpractice, the claimant is the patient and the other entities are physicians, nurses, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and the like.  In some cases, the terms "claimant" and "plaintiff" are used interchangeably.  However, in some states that have prelitigation requirements, the term "claimant" is used prior to the initiation of a lawsuit and the term "plaintiff" is used once the lawsuit commences.

3)  Consortium.  Consortium refers to the rights and duties of married individuals such as companionship, sexual relations, and affection.  In medical malpractice cases, the spouse may file for loss of consortium when the patient is killed or injured in certain ways.  For example, a wife might file for loss of consortium when her husband is injured so that they could not have sexual intercourse.

4),  DOI.  DOI refers to Date of Incident.  In personal injury cases, for example, this is the date the plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident or slipped and fell in the supermarket.  In medical malpractice cases, this is the date of the alleged malpractice.  For example, the DOI of a botched surgery would be the date of the operative procedure.

5)  Certified.  In medical malpractice cases, the term certified means two different things.  The first meaning refers to certified mail.  With certified mail, the delivery person obtains a dated receipt of delivery of legal documents.  In this case, certified means proof of delivery and proof of receipt of the documents.  The second meaning of certified refers to an exact, true copy of an original document.  In medical malpractice cases, it usually refers to a healthcare provider or entity certifying that they have provided an accurate and complete copy of their medical records.

6) Sworn Statement.  Sworn statements are oral or written statements of facts given by parties in medical malpractice lawsuits.  In oral sworn statements, the party testifies under oath. In some states, the parties sign and date written sworn statements and endorse them as containing true information.  In other states, sworn statements, such as affidavits, are signed in the presence of a public official like a notary public.

7) Unsworn Statement.  An unsworn statement refers to a written or oral statement of facts given by parties.  These statements are often obtained during prelitigation and cannot be used as evidence when the case is litigated.

If you're interested in more legal terms, see original Legal Lingo and Legal Lingo - 7 More Terms.

...Katy Jones