In this day and age, solicitors usually write in plain English. I say ‘usually’ because there are still some firms who pepper their letters with a sprinkling of ‘here within’, ‘inst’, ‘attached unto’ and the like .....
When you make a personal injury compensation claim, you’ll certainly meet some legal terminology. I hope this article explains some of them. Remember, nothing makes a personal injury solicitor take more notice, than if you ‘talk the talk’.
OK, in no particular order, here they come:
Quantum – in simple terms, what your personal injury compensation is worth.
Liability – in even simpler terms, this refers to the action (or in-action) of the person who caused your accident. If you slip on oil at work, your boss will most likely be liable (if he’d cleaned it up, then you wouldn’t have slipped).
Medico-Legal Report – at some point during your compensation claim for personal injury, you will be examined. The insurers are not going to take your word for your condition. A doctor will examine you and write a report. These fall into two categories: a) totally unintelligible with totally unnecessary medical terms and b) totally unintelligible with totally unnecessary medical terms. Don’t worry, your solicitor can unravel all this! Watch out if the report contains the Latin phrase plumbum pendularis. It means you are swinging the lead!
Counsel – do not confuse this with council (who are quite often the defendant). Counsel is the barrister, who the solicitor wheels out on occasions for advice. If your case goes to trial, counsel will represent you. A barrister is like a hospital consultant, vastly experienced, has seen it all before and incredibly well paid.
Defendant – the other side. It might be a person (even a family member), your employer, a company or a business. It is confusing I know, but the defendant’s insurers will be doing the defending. It’s a complex business. Insurer’s ‘stand in the shoes of the defendant’.
Trial – a contest between the Claimant (that’s you) and the Defendant (the other side). It’s not like on the telly, people don’t shout and bang the table (the judge wouldn’t let them). The parties all sit in a courtroom and in turn give their evidence. The judge controls the contest and s/he makes a decision at the end. There is no jury (that’s for criminal cases and very rare types of civil cases).
Damages – means the same as quantum, but with out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings added on.
Judge – the lawyer who decides if s/he believes your evidence or the defendant’s evidence. Usually a judge will be a barrister, but you may come up against a solicitor advocate (a solicitor who has trained to be a judge). Either way, they can either make very astute decisions or crazy decisions.
Res ipsa loquiter – another Latin phrase that means ‘the act speaks for itself’. Usually, the Claimant has to prove the negligence, but on rare occasions there can be circumstances when the fact of the accident is sufficient and this will demonstrate negligence.
Novus actus interveniens – (more Latin!) Something else may happen after the breach of duty. This can take three forms. a) An act of a third party may break the chain of causation. b) A natural event may break the chain of causation. c) An act by the Claimant may break the causation. In Reeves –v- Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  2 ALL ER 381 – Lord Justice Buxton said that a true novus actus ‘obliterates the wrongdoing of the defendant’.
Limitation – this means how much time you have to claim before the law prevents you. In its simplest form, you have 3 years from the date of the accident. If you were under 18 years of age, when the accident happened, then you can bring a claim up to your 21st birthday. As ever, don’t wait too long, as witnesses move and memories fade. If you have suffered an industrial disease or similar, than the clock starts ticking from when you should have reasonably known the injury was caused by say asbestos.
Full and Final Settlement – When your claim settles, you cannot go back to the defendant at a later date and say “I’d like some more compensation”. When you agree to settle, er, that’s it. Of course, some large settlements are structured to be paid, as the Claimant gets better. These invariably involve children.
Without prejudice – your solicitor will attempt to negotiate an ‘out of court settlement’. This is done on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. Both sides try and thrash out a deal acceptable to both and only when both sides agree, does it become binding. If the parties cannot agree and it goes to trial, then the negotiations cannot be brought to the attention of the court.
Causation – usually it is quite clear that the action (or in-action) caused the accident (injury). For example, the defendant drove on the wrong side of the road and struck your car head on. No doubt in this case. But what if say, a doctor negligibly prescribes a medication that seemingly causes the patient to become blind. An examination of the Claimant’s medical records demonstrates previous episodes of blindness and perhaps a family history of this. Causation is now an issue. What really caused the blindness?
Ex turpi causa non oritur – (even more Latin). The law will not compensate those who become injured while undertaking a criminal activity. In Ashton –v- Turner  QB 137, two men drove a getaway car from a robbery and crashed. Incredibly, the passenger attempted to sue the driver!! Rather sensibly, the court decided not to compensate the injured robber.
And finally, for the moment anyway, Volenti non fit injuria – if the Claimant consented to the risk, then he is unlikely to be successful claiming compensation. In Morris –v- Murray  3 ALL ER 801, the Claimant went for a spin (as a passenger) in an aeroplane piloted by the drunken defendant. They had both been drinking together earlier. Sadly, the pilot was killed. Was the Claimant successful? Now what do you think?
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Article Source: http://www.compensationsecrets.co.uk/