Defendant This is the individual, company, or other legal entity such as an NHS trust against which your medical negligence claim is made.
Litigation We use it so frequently, but this term simply describes the process of taking legal action through the court system.
Negligence Quite simply this refers to whatever has gone wrong. In a medical negligence case, this means the duty of care owed to you by a healthcare professional has been breached, and that this has caused you some harm.
Compensation A term you may already be familiar with, this refers to money which may be awarded to the claimant should they win their case. This includes money for injury, but also for lost earnings and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Compensation is not always awarded, however in most instances this is what your solicitor will be fighting for on your behalf.
Causation This describes the relation between the defence’s actions or breach of duty and the claimant’s injury or suffering.
It is one thing to show that something has gone wrong, but a claimant also needs to prove that this caused them harm. Your solicitor will fight to prove this link.
Breach of Duty If your care falls below a reasonable standard, the healthcare professional is in breach of his or her duty to you.
Burden of Proof If you are making a personal injury claim, the ‘burden of proof’ lies with you. This means simply that it is up to you – or your solicitor – to prove the case you are claiming, offering evidence to support your claim.
In a medical negligence claim, this includes having an independent doctor review the situation and your medical records to produce their own report.
Expert Witness This is an expert in a particular field who is asked to give an opinion in a court case. They can be appointed by the claimant, defendant or by both.