Backup – Legal Jargon Glossary

Legal Jargon Glossary

Accident Benefits

Compensation (money or assistance) is provided to motor vehicle accident victims regardless of who is at fault. May include: medical and rehabilitation expenses (such as equipment, treatment, and therapy), attendant care, income replacement, housekeeping expenses, and more.

In Alberta, most accident benefits fall under SPF-1 Section B.


Insurance Adjuster

A person (typically working for an insurance company) who investigates insurance claims or claims for damages and recommends a settlement.


Attendant Care

Any action that helps a person with a disability accomplish activities of daily living. This can include helping with many basic activities, including: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility, cooking, cleaning, taking medication, and other essential tasks. These are tasks that the individual is physically unable to perform or struggles to complete on their own.


The Cap

See “Minor Injury Regulations and the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols.”


Coma

An extended period of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be woken up.


Contingency Fee

A fee for services that is only payable if there is a positive result.


CT Scan

A CT scan or computed tomography scan is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to obtain detailed internal images of the body noninvasively for diagnostic purposes. It is often done of the skull and brain.


Damages

The estimated amount of money to compensate accident victims for their injuries and other negative impacts on their lives.


Deductible

A clause in most insurance policies that relieves the insurer of responsibility to pay initial losses up to a certain amount.


Defendant

A person, corporation, or other legal entity who has charges brought against them in Court.


Law of Causation

In order to prove a defendant caused a plaintiff’s damages in Court, an element of negligence is required. In injury law, causation is assessed with the “but for” test. For example, in a car accident case, lawyers would ask “‘but for’ the accident, would the claimant have suffered these injuries?” If the answer is “no,” causation is established.


Limitation Period

A time period after which legal action cannot be taken.

Alberta’s Limitations Act establishes a basic two-year limitation period for most injury cases. This period starts when the claimant knows, or ought to know, that their injuries/damages have occurred and were caused by the act or omission of the defendant.


Loss of Consortium

Compensation that legal spouses of an accident victim are entitled to if their partner’s injury negatively aspects of their marriage (such as loss of companionship, love, affection, comfort, mutual services, or sexual intimacy).

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has clarified that loss of consortium claims only apply to legal spouses; unmarried partners do not qualify for loss of consortium.


Mediation

A process for resolving a legal dispute before the case goes to trial. Your injury lawyer will work with the insurance adjuster, the other party’s lawyer, and a neutral third party or judge to attempt to negotiate a settlement.


Minor Injury Regulations and the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols (“The Cap”)

In Alberta, these regulations limit (or “cap”) the amount of compensation a person can receive for “pain and suffering” damages in accident settlements involving minor injuries. As of February 2022, Alberta’s minor injury cap for pain and suffering damages is $5488. This amount may be adjusted over time due to inflation.

The Cap only limits “pain and suffering” damages. It does not limit other compensation accident victims can receive. For example, loss of income, inability to perform essential tasks, and long-term care expenses aren’t limited by the Cap.


Motor Vehicle Accident Claims (MVAC) Program

Alberta’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program is designed to protect victims injured by uninsured or unknown drivers. In accidents where the at-fault driver is uninsured or unknown, victims can sue MVAC to receive compensation for their injuries.


Occupational Therapist

A registered healthcare professional who retrains accident victims to resume self-care activities important to daily living. They also evaluate and help accident victims adapt their routines to increase function.


Paraplegia

Total paralysis affecting the lower half of the body (including both legs), usually caused by damage to the spinal cord.


Physical Therapy / Physiotherapy

The use of exercise and modalities to treat physical dysfunction or injury, intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development.


Plaintiff

The party that institutes a suit in Court. In injury law, this is usually the accident victim or their family.


Quadriplegia

The complete paralysis of the entire body below the neck, including all four limbs.


Rehab Support Worker

A rehabilitation professional who supports injured persons in developing independent living and personal care skills. They can also monitor patients’ health and safety needs and provide structured community outings to assist in reintegration.


Section B Benefits

In Alberta, motor vehicle accident victims are not responsible for the costs of their treatment. Under the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulation, your vehicle insurer is required to pay for up to 2 years of treatment after the accident.


SEF 44 Coverage

Many insurance policies have the option to include SEF 44 Coverage (also known as Family Protection Coverage). If you’re injured by an uninsured, underinsured, unknown party, or are injured abroad, SEF 44 Coverage can help ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.


Social Worker (SW)

A professional that works to support the social, emotional, and financial needs of families and patients. They often help locate services to help with recovery and rehabilitation.


SPF-1

The standard owner’s automobile insurance policy for Alberta. It is the same for anyone who has auto insurance.


Structured Settlement

A settlement where the accident victim agrees to receive their settlement funds in periodic payments over a long period of time (sometimes up to 30 years) rather than all at once in a lump sum.


TMJ Dysfunction

Injuries that affect the jaw joints and surrounding tissues. They can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including jaw pain, headaches, pain in the neck/shoulders, ringing in the ears, and more.


Tort Law

Most civil suits today are covered by tort law. Generally, any claim that arises in civil court (including accident injury claims) falls under tort law. There are several exceptions, such as contractual disputes.

The idea behind tort law is to compensate a person for another party’s wrongdoing, usually by awarding monetary damages as compensation. In injury law, this involves accident victims and their families receiving a settlement that can cover the injuries themselves, loss of income, medical expenses, and other consequences of the accident.


Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD)

Whiplash Associated Disorder is a group of injuries that are extremely common in car accidents. Physiotherapists often describe sprains and strains consistent with “whiplash” as WAD injuries.

There are three main categories of WAD injuries:

  • WAD 1 injuries are diagnosed when the individual experiences pain in a muscle or ligament, but maintains regular strength and range of motion.
  • WAD 2 injuries have the same symptoms as WAD 1, but with decreased range of motion and/or muscle spasms.
  • WAD 3 injuries have the same symptoms as WAD 1 and WAD 2, but with neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, slowed reflexes, and more.