Shellie’s Medical Malpractice Nightmare

and her

Fight for Freedom of Speech

Legal Terms

Arbitration – The submission by two contesting parties of their disagreement to an impartial arbitrator, usually agreeing that his ruling in the dispute will be binding and final.

Attorney – A person who has been qualified by a state or federal court to provide legal services, including appearing in court.

Damages – Compensation that the law awards to someone who has been injured or suffers a loss because of the action of another.

Defendant – The party sued in a civil lawsuit or the party charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution.

Evidence – Something that furnishes proof: something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter.

Immediate cause – The final, determining cause of an outcome or event. An immediate cause may be preceded by many contributory causes, none of which actually produced the ultimate event.

Judge – An official with the authority and responsibility to preside in a court, try lawsuits and make legal rulings.

Lawsuit – A common term for a legal action by one person or entity against another person or entity, to be decided in a court of law, sometimes just called a “suit.” The legal claims within a lawsuit are called “causes of action.”

Legal cause – The real cause of an injury or accident; the immediate cause; the proximate cause.

Limitation – A limit; a restriction; a specified period of time during which a litigation can take place and after that period, the statute of limitations has expired; a time limit.

Malpractice – Professional misconduct; immoral behavior in the performance of one’s professional duties; neglect of one’s duties toward a client by an attorney, or toward a patient by a physician; unusual lack of skill in the performance of one’s professional activities.

Misrepresentation – The crime of misstating facts to obtain money, goods or benefits of another to which the accused is not entitled. Examples: a person a) falsely claims to represent a charity to obtain a donation which he/she keeps; b) says a painting is a genuine Jackson Pollock when it is a fake and thus is able to sell it for a price much greater than its true value. Misrepresentation is also called “false pretenses.”

Mediation – The settlement of disputes between two parties by the intervention of a third party, who acts impartially and attempts to reconcile differences. This third party is known as a mediator.

Medical evidence – Testimony given by physicians, usually as expert witnesses, in a suit.

Negligence – Failure to do what a reasonable, careful, conscientious person is expected to do; doing something that a reasonable, careful conscientious person would not do.

Objection – A lawyer’s protest about the legal propriety of a question which has been asked of a witness by the opposing attorney, with the purpose of making the trial judge decide if the question can be asked. A proper objection must be based on a specific reason for not allowing a question.

Overruled – Judge allows something after it has been objected.

Plaintiff – The party who is bringing a lawsuit against a defendant; the person or persons who are suing.

Prejudicial – Leading to premature judgment or unwarranted opinion

Prima facie case – A case or action that will win unless the other side produces strong evidence to contradict it; a case with sufficient positive evidence to convince a judge and/or jury.

Proximate cause – The immediate cause of an injury or accident; the legal cause; the real cause; a direct cause.

Res ipsa loquitur – (Latin) “The thing speaks for itself.” A legal phrase meaning that the facts, testimony, and circumstances are so clear that one can conclude, without doubt, that a certain act, or omission of an act, caused a particular damage or injury.

Small claims court- Courts set up for the express purpose of settling small claims. Decisions in such litigation are made by a judge within a short period of time, thereby avoiding a prolonged trial.

Standard of care – The type of care that is usually given by prudent, sensible people; the opposite of substandard or negligent care.

Subpoenaed – A writ commanding the person designated in it to appear in court under a penalty for failure.

Testimony – Oral evidence given under oath by a witness in answer to questions posed by attorneys at trial or at a deposition (A deposition involves questioning under oath outside of court).

Tort – A wrong committed by one person against another; a civil, not a criminal wrong; a wrong not arising out of a contract; a violation of a legal duty that one person has toward another. Negligence and libel are torts. Every tort is composed of a legal obligation, a breach of that obligation, and damage as the result of the breach of the obligation.

Video deposition – Testimony on video.

Verdict – The decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final.

Witness – A person who testifies under oath in a trial (or a deposition which may be used in a trial if the witness is not available) with first-hand or expert evidence useful in a lawsuit.