GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Accident Reconstruction – is an important tool used in certain complicated accidents and involves hiring experts (often former Police officers and insurance specialists) who will reconstruct the scene of an accident. This is done to determine the most probable scenario of events which led to the motor vehicle accident if liability is in question. Accident reconstruction may include interviews with witnesses, inspection of the damaged vehicle(s), inspection and photographing of the scene, etc. Accident reconstruction specialists use mathematical formulas which enable them to determine such things as the speed of the vehicle prior to the impact.


Acquired Brain Injury – damage to the brain which is not hereditary. The function of the brain will essentially be disrupted and the severity of the injury can be mild to severe. Usually an acquired brain injury results from a traumatic brain injury as a result of any type of motor vehicle accident and can result in short or long-term difficulties with function including but not limited to: thinking, emotions, learning, behaviour, language and sensation.


Activities of Daily Living – commonly referred to as ADL, these are the tasks essential to allow an individual to meet basic needs including hygiene, food preparation, eating, toileting, dressing, using the telephone, shopping, etc.


Actuary – an individual who essentially calculates risk, but in more specific terms they will calculate annuity and insurance premiums, reserves and dividends.


Ambulation – to move from place to place; walk.


Anger Management – a form of counselling using therapeutic techniques to assist individuals when the normal human emotion of anger has a negative impact on one’s life and becomes out of control, affecting relationships, families, friendships and work.


Arbitration – is a form of dispute resolution. In the realm of personal injury law, arbitration is most commonly seen within the accident benefits component of a client’s case. If mediation of a particular dispute with your own insurance company is unsuccessful you can turn to arbitration whereby the involved parties agree to have their conflicts heard by an impartial third party (the arbitrator). The decision is final at this level of dispute resolution.


Arbitrator – an individual who hears the facts from both parties at an arbitration hearing and will give a decision on the case.


Assistive Device – in the realm of health care, an assistive device includes many items; however, in the area of personal injury law, this refers to an item which will assist the individual in both their healing and daily functioning and includes (but not limited to): wheelchairs; walkers, crutches, canes and other mobility aids; seating systems; hearing aids; orthotic devices such as braces, etc.


At Fault – you may be found partially at fault or completely at fault for the motor vehicle accident although this has no bearing on your ability to collect accident benefits through your own insurance company. You may find your insurance premiums rise after your next renewal after being found at fault for a collision; however, you should check with your insurance broker to confirm this.


Attendant Care and/or Attendant Care Benefits – if you require additional assistant to complete your activities of daily living and/or are significantly incapacitated as a result of your injuries, this benefit covers you for expenses incurred by an attendant or aide.


Bone Scan – a diagnostic test performed to detect areas of new bone growth or bone breakdown as seen in bone tumours, infections, disorders and fractures. Radioactive material is injected which will give off radiation detected by a camera, which performs a scan of the body. This radioactive material is collected in the bones of the body and the device will capture a picture of the precise amount that collects in the bones.


Caregiver – one who provides care to a dependent or partially dependent individual.


Caregiver Benefits – a financial benefit paid to individuals who are the main caregiver for children under the age of 16 (or older if they are suffering from a disability) or are the main responsible caregiver for a family member. This benefit covers you for some of the expenses incurred as a result of being unable to continue with your normal caregiving duties.


Cervical Spine – in the region of the neck. There are seven vertebrae in the cervical spine.


Closed Head Injury – trauma to the scalp, skull or brain that can vary from a tiny bump to the head to a serious and traumatic brain injury.


Cognitive – in its most specific terms, cognition relates to being conscious, thinking and reasoning. It is essentially one’s faculty for processing information and using this knowledge to adjust to events of each and every day.


Collision Reporting Centre – many centres across Canada have introduced this form of motor vehicle accident reporting. Instead of phoning the local police department from the scene of the collision, you can report any minor motor vehicle accident to the closest centre if one is available in your area.


Coma – an abnormal deep sleep, which can occur after injury or severe illness whereby the individual cannot be wakened.


Counselling – guidance provided by a trained health professional.


CT Scan (Computed Tomography) – a radiographic test using sophisticated computers in which x-rays are projected throughout the body to achieve a three- dimensional image of the various tissues being assessed. The patient lies on an examination table and is moved within the CT scanner, which is a large box-like machine with a tunnel in the centre. Multiple images are taken allowing the CT scan to offer greater clarity than traditional X-ray studies. The CT is invaluable to diagnose many conditions, specifically those found in very small areas. CT scans are sometimes called a CAT scan.


Deductible (for accidents after October 1, 2003) – the portion of the claim which you will be responsible to pay yourself. This amount in the case of a personal injury settlement is usually deducted from the total award or judgment.


Defence Medical Examination – a medical evaluation/assessment which has been arranged by the insurance adjuster or the defence lawyer.


Economist – similar to an accountant and actuary, who will assess labour markets, compatible careers and assess potential losses.


Examination for Discovery – a legal proceeding in which the parties involved in a claim have an opportunity to meet with the other parties involved before trial. This can take place at a variety of locations, which will include the parties and their lawyers and/or representatives. Each party will have an opportunity to ask the other party questions surrounding the details of the case. The examination is taped and transcribed and may be introduced at any time in the future of the case.


Exercise Program – a prescribed program consisting of stretches, exercises, etc. usually designed by a personal trainer, physiotherapist, exercise trainer, chiropractor, etc. The exercise program may be designed to be performed at home or in a gym or fitness facility. This is extremely helpful to those individuals who may be unfamiliar with “working-out” and will assist them in the proper form, number of repetitions, weights to use and so forth so that you may achieve maximum results in your recovery process.


Explanation of Benefits – a document provided by your own insurance company that details what benefits are being paid or denied.


Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) – an assessment consisting of a series of tests are administered to the injured individual in order to determine their functional capacity to work. Simulated work activities are assessed in order to determine the injured individual’s abilities.


Future Care Cost Analysis – an assessment performed to determine the projected costs of the medical and non-medical needs (medical and rehabilitation, professional services, attendant care, aids to daily living, transportation, housekeeping and home maintenance, etc.) of an injured individual for the future, taking into account their condition.


Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) – is the scoring system which is most widely used by medical and nursing staff to measure the level of consciousness following any head injury. The GCS scores an individual out of a total of a possible 15, assessing eye opening, motor and verbal response. Eight is the critical score, and most individuals with this score or less are in a coma. Nine to eleven means the injury is of moderate severity and a score greater than or equal to 12 equates to a minor injury. It is extremely easy to use and is relatively accurate regardless of the assessor as the terms are easily identifiable.


Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) – measures the outcome of a head injury scoring an individual out of a possible five (dead, vegetative, severely disabled, moderately disabled and good recovery). Another version of the scale exists, the Glasgow Outcome Scale-Extended Version, which subdivides each of the latter three categories.


Home Modifications – alterations or modifications made to an injured individual’s home in order to help them to return to their home after a significant injury such as wheelchair ramp, altered counter heights, etc.).


IME (Independent Medical Evaluation) – a medical evaluation by one not the injured individual’s main treating physician or specialist meant to give an independent medical opinion of the individual’s injuries, limitations and prognosis.


Income Replacement Benefits – replacement of an injured person’s income while unable to work as a result of the injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Accident benefits provide for 80% of your income to a maximum of $400 per week. Optional coverage is available.


In-home Housekeeping Assessment – an assessment performed by a trained individual, usually an occupational therapist, registered nurse, or a kinesiologist which determines an injured individual’s needs in respect of housekeeping and home maintenance.


Insurance Claims Adjuster – either an employee of an insurance company or an independent person who investigates and adjusts a claim on behalf of an insurer.


Insurance Claims Examiner – a person who is employed by an insurer to review and respond to the claims presented to them on behalf of the insurance company they are employed by and the person who is insured by their company.


Job Coach – is paid for their services to assist individuals with disabilities of varying degrees in choosing the correct career path geared towards their functional abilities, taking many factors into account including the individual’s skills and interests.


Judgment – in legal terms, this is considered to be the finding or ruling.


Lumbar Spine – the part of the back between the chest and the pelvis.


Mediation – a meeting supervised by an independent mediator designed to bring resolution to an ongoing dispute. A mediation may be held by a private mediator to attempt to reach a settlement in respect of the claim against the at fault party(ies) alone or in conjunction with the benefits denied by an individual’s own insurance company (accident benefits). In addition, mediation may take place with a mediator of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for an accident benefits related disagreement.


Mediator – an individual who performs mediation between two parties in disagreement of an issue or issues.


Modified work – employment which has been altered from its normal course to allow an injured individual to perform some of the duties of their employment. Modified work usually comes at the recommendation of one’s care provider or after a jobsite assessment to determine an injured individual’s ability to work. Often if an injured individual is unable to work their normal job as a result of their disability with simple alterations such as a reduction in hours either by a reduced workday or by altering workdays with a day of work, a day off, a day of work, a day off, etc. In some cases, certain tasks can be reassigned to another co-worker during the course of recovery. Recommendations are often made for a more sedentary type of position during the times an injured individual is simply unable to complete their normal work, especially if their normalemployment includes that which is extremely heavy and/or labour intensive.


Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund – in Ontario, you are protected even though you may be the innocent victim when faced with a situation of there being no identifiable auto insurance.


MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – a non-invasive, painless exam which gives a high quality picture and does not expose the patient to radiation. Electromagnetic energy creates a detailed image of the inside of your body.


No Fault – this does not mean that no one is ever to blame for their accident, but rather that in respect of dealings with the insurer, an insured individual will deal with their own insurance company regardless of fault for the accident.


Non-Earner Benefits – a benefit which is paid to an injured individual who is injured and who is “completely unable to carry on a normal life.” This benefit is often paid to retirees, homemakers (without children at home under the age of 16), unemployed individuals, etc.
Neuropsychological Assessment – a complicated medical evaluation to assess an injured individual’s functioning including intelligence, planning and organization, memory, language, attention, sensory functions, auditory processing, visual processing, concept formation, processing speed, problem solving, behaviour, academic skills, personality, emotions, planning and organization. A variety of areas are tested to ensure proper assessment is done on those things which will have an impact with the injured individual’s life and performance in school, with friends, family, at home or at work.


Parenting Courses – are conducted by trained professionals with the goal to teach parents proper parenting skills including dealing with conflict and improved tools to deal with discipline with the ultimate goal being to improve the parents’ confidence.


PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomograph)/SPECT Scan (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) – a non-invasive radiographic test extremely useful in the measurement of brain activity, function of the heart and for the evaluation of tumors and studies both metabolic changes within specific organs or areas of the body and blood flow.


Physical Demand Analysis (PDA) – an assessment which measures the specific components of an individual’s job tasks to assess the feasibility of them being able to complete the essential tasks of their employment.


Post-Traumatic Amnesia – a state of confusion, memory loss and agitation experienced by an individual with a traumatic brain injury. It can happen soon after the injury occurs or after awakening from coma.


Range of Motion – usually used to describe a particular joint or group of muscles and refers to the amount of distance between the flexed position to the extended position.


Recreational Therapy (RT) – provide recreation activities for injured individuals which offer treatment geared to assist in the reduction of depression, anxiety and stress and improvement of one’s basic motor functioning. The hope is to reduce the effects of the person’s injury.


Retrograde Amnesia – loss of memory of the events that occurred prior to the injury or trauma.


Sensation – the feeling or awareness within the body as the result of stimulation of receptors.


Sleep Clinic – a facility to diagnose and treat disorders of sleep.


SPECT Scan – see PET Scan.


Thoracic Spine – the area involving the upper back.


Tort Law – a civil wrongdoing.


Transferable Skills Analysis – an assessment performed to determine an injured individual’s ability to perform tasks in the job in which they worked prior to the injury and how they can transfer those skills into another job in the local job market. Past training and experience is taken into account with hopes to re-enter the individual into the workforce.


Treatment Plan – a document outlining an injured individual’s diagnosis, suggested treatments and expected outcome.


HEALTHCARE PERSONNEL & THEIR FUNCTIONS

Audiologist – a specialist in diagnosing and treating disorders of the ear.


Case Manager – co-ordinates the health and legal services of an individual. Often a case manager will be assigned in cases of catastrophic impairment, spinal cord injury, and other serious injuries.


Chiropractor – a healthcare professional that deals with the musculoskeletal system for the treatment of orthopaedic, athletic and occupational injuries.


Counsellor – a health professional who provides guidance and advice.


Kinesiologist – a specialist in body movement and the muscles of the body.


Massage Therapist – a treatment used for relaxation and/or a variety of health conditions which improves circulation, flexibility and mobility and relieves muscle tension and pain.


Neurologist – an individual who specializes in diseases and disorders of the nervous system.


Neuropsychologist – a clinical psychologist with specialized training in brain function. They must have an advanced degree in psychology and they have a thorough understanding of the relationship between the brain and behaviour.


Neurosurgeon – a specialized surgeon who performs surgery on the nervous system.


Nurse Practitioner – a registered nurse with advanced training which allows them to diagnose and treat illness, including the prescription of a limited group of medications. They may work independently or with a physician.


Occupational Therapist – treats physical and psychological disorders and conditions to promote independent functioning. They assist individuals of all ages to overcome the effects of the injuries and disabilities from which they are suffering.


Optometrist – diagnoses and treats diseases of the eye including the prescription of eyeglasses, contact lenses and medications. They are unable to perform surgery; however, they often provide post-surgical care alongside an ophthalmologist.


Orthopaedic Surgeon – a surgeon specializing in conditions of the musculoskeletal system who preserves and restores function to their patients. They may perform surgeries to treat trauma, sporting injuries, disease, tumours, infections, and congenital disorders. An orthopaedic surgeon may use non-surgical techniques to treat these disorders should surgery not be necessary.


Pain Clinic – a clinic which may employ a variety of health care professionals who can implement a specialized plan to treat an injured and disabled individual’s pain. Pain clinics offer a variety of programs and treatments including outpatient services, intensive inpatient programs, medications, individual and group therapy, and many other specialized treatments.


Personal Support Worker – a trained but unregulated caregiver who assists individuals with their personal care needs while unable to do so themselves due to injury, illness or aging. They work under the supervision of a regulated health care professional or under direction of the patient. Care may include mobility, bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, bed making and light cleaning. They may work in hospital, long-term care facilities or in home-care situations with the roles differing slightly.


Physiatrist – a physician who specializes in physical medicine.


Physiotherapist – a specialist who uses both manual and mechanical techniques to assist and rehabilitate a variety of individuals and treat a wide variety of conditions such as injuries and trauma, sports injuries, orthopaedics, post-surgical, strokes, neurological conditions and many more. Physiotherapists will use therapeutic exercise and the application of electro-physical modalities to also assist in their patients’ rehabilitation.


Psychiatrist – a physician who specializes in the treatment and prevention of mental disorders.


Psychologist – may work in a variety of fields, but in personal injury, the type of psychologist you would expect to encounter would be one that would provide clinical counselling. They study the mind and human behaviour and offer mental health care in a variety of settings such as hospitals, private clinics, or in private practice. Clinical psychologists assist their patients adapt to life changes including those suffering from illness and injury as well as assist family members through the personal crisis of the death of a loved one. They can give diagnostic tests and provide psychotherapy and assist individuals in behavioural modification programs. They may also collaborate with other members of the individual’s health care team.


Psychometrist – trained in psychology or a related field who specializes in tests and measurement. The psychometrist usually works under the direct supervision of a clinical psychologist and administers and scores psychological tests.


Registered Nurse – a trained, skilled health professional who provides health care working along with physicians or independently in a variety of situations including private clinics, hospitals, schools, physician offices, industry, long-term care facilities, military facilities, insurance and legal industries. The nursing role varies greatly and includes a range of specialties. Nurses are health advocates who promote health, prevention of illness, provide care of the ill, disabled and dying individuals, and assist patients and their families.


Rheumatologist – a physician who specializes in rheumatic diseases (acute and chronic conditions characterized by inflammation, muscle pain and stiffness, joint pain and associated structures including arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia and many other conditions).


Social Worker – a trained specialist who assists a wide variety of individuals with everyday life issues, relationship difficulties, family difficulties and disabled individuals. The social worker assists many others, but in respect of personal injury, they will help patients and their families who have experienced a disability as the result of an injury. They offer psychosocial support so that they can cope. They will often work on interdisciplinary teams and be able to offer a variety of services.


Speech Language Pathologist – a trained individual who assists those with language and speech impairments.

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