Calgary Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal Injury Glossary

Personal Injury Law Glossary

As a person who is wrongfully injured, you want to find yourself a trusted injury lawyer and an insurance company. When dealing with personal injury law, you will come across a significant number of technical terms that you wouldn’t usually use in casual conversations. However, in the formal language of the law, professionals use specific words and phrases to describe a case, situation, or condition in greater detail.


The experienced Calgary Personal Injury Lawyers at LT Lawyers LLP compiled a Personal Injury Law Glossary to help our Canadian clients better understand the step-by-step procedures should they be in need of a personal injury lawyer. If you need further assistance, please give our friendly team a call at (403) 483 8888 to learn more!


Accident Benefits: Also known as accident insurance, this benefit is available to anyone suffering from personal injury. In fact, it is the broader term that encompasses a list of benefits, including caregiver, rehabilitation, attendant care, and a lot more. However, eligibility will depend on the severity of the personal injury.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL): ADL describes the daily lifestyle of the injured person prior to the accident—from attending work to running errands and other fundamental activities that constitute their independence. An assessment will determine if the injured person is restricted from these day-to-day activities. If they’re unable to eat or use the restroom, they will require assistance.

Adjuster: An adjuster can be an insurance agent who closely examines claims against the insurance company’s standards. They gather evidence and other information used to evaluate the claim before making a payment that corresponds with the insurance policy.  

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): An ADR process involves negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law to enable lawyers to effectively help their clients resolve legal disputes. Members of the ADR Section gather additional insight from a wide range of experienced and neutral speakers who can provide alternatives to traditional litigation. These speakers include retired judges, academics, and other professionals.


Bodily Injury: Bodily injury refers to physical injury and could be the result of a fall, physical assault, or a car accident. The severity will depend on whether the injured person has suffered from long-term trauma or one they can recover from.

Brain Injury: Brain injury is also trauma-related and could lead to a long-term impairment of the brain. For a proper analysis, specialist physicians will complete Glasgow Coma Scale testing to measure the severity of the brain injury right after the accident.

Burden of Proof: Sometimes referred to as the standard of proof, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to provide evidence of their injury caused by accident. The burden of proof consists of 1) Liability: who is responsible for the loss, and 2) Causation: the loss tied to the accident or was it caused by something else, such as an unrelated medical condition or injury. Once the liability and cause are proven, the evidence will be gathered to prove liability and causation against the defendant.


Caregiver Benefit: If you are severely injured and become unable to provide for your family, you will be eligible for caregiver benefits.

Catastrophic Impairment and/or Injury: There is a list of catastrophic injuries that include brain injury, chronic back pain or paraplegia. Catastrophic impairment, on the other hand, is defined by conditions such as the inability to perform the tasks of daily living and/or employment.

Certified Medical Examination: Certified examiners or physicians in Alberta are established under the Minor Injury Regulation of the Insurance Act. If, after an automobile accident, there is a disagreement or dispute between the claimant and their insurance company, either one can request a certified examiner.

Contingency Fees: This is a written agreement between the plaintiff and their personal injury lawyer. It states that the fee is only payable if the plaintiff receives a settlement. Essentially, the contingency fee exists to promote justice. Should the injury lawyer be unsuccessful, the injured person should not suffer from more loss.

Collateral Benefits: Collateral benefits are a form of income replacement for injured people who have suffered from injuries outside the realm of a civil lawsuit. This type of benefit includes disability benefits received from your employment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, and other sources. Collateral benefits are designed for injured parties and are a no-fault scheme type of compensation.  

Contributory Negligence: In this case, the court may decide that the plaintiff is partly at fault and, thus, assign a liability percentage in which both parties will be required to pay towards damage incurred.


Deductible: When referring to personal injury, a deductible is an amount that the insured party has to pay out-of-pocket while their insurance company covers the major amount of the costs incurred.

Direct Compensation-Property Damage (DC-PD): In this scenario, your insurance company covers the damage for which you are not at fault. It’s important to note that “property damage” can refer to vehicular devices but not bodily injury or any other types of personal injury.

Disbursement: Disbursement refers to a lawyer’s expenses incurred on behalf of their client during legal services. Subsequently, the client will reimburse their lawyer.


Economic Loss or Pecuniary Loss:  Pecuniary losses are those that can be defined or calculated mathematically, as opposed to non-pecuniary, aka general damages, which are more nebulous and not calculable. They can refer to money lost due to injury or even the death of a Plaintiff who is no longer able to work. Here, you may also be eligible for housekeeping or home maintenance benefits.


First-Party Benefits: First-party benefits cover all injured persons who were in an accident. It refers to the statutory no-fault accident benefit explained below. 

First Party Claims: You, the injured person, file a claim for injury or loss after an accident.


General Damages: General damage is compensation for an injured person’s pain and suffering. It’s financial compensation to alleviate the situation of not being able to enjoy their life from the time of the loss onwards.


Health Care Expenses: These are the costs you pay your healthcare provider for treating your condition and helping you get back on track. In the event of a car accident, for example, your insurance company must first approve these services.


Income Replacement Benefits (IRBs): In the event of a car accident that makes you unfit to work, you MAY BE entitled to compensation in the form of benefits based calculated using your pre-incident income.

Indemnity: After suffering from a loss, you should return to your position in a pre-loss state. It means it is a contractual obligation that the defendant, who is found liable, has to compensate for a loss incurred.

Independent Medical Examination: An IME describes a one-time assessment during which an independent community physician is provided with your medical health history and treatments from your family doctor. The IME physician examines you to make a medical opinion that may differ from your family doctor’s.


Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR): In Alberta Courts, JDR describes a confidential pre-trial settlement debate guided by a Justice of the Court of King's Bench. This pre-trial conference is intended to resolve a dispute without requiring a trial.


Legal Action / Legal Claim: A person who feels wrongly accused of something will take legal action (also known as “legal claim”) against a party they believe are responsible for wrongdoing. The goal of the court is to find a legal resolution.

Legal Costs: It is important to note that lawyers charge differently. Every lawyer has a different skill and provides a different level of knowledge and expertise. Then, there is also the level of complexity of a person’s situation. While fees can be negotiated, Albertan lawyers generally offer different types of legal fee arrangements, such as fixed rates, contingency fees, hourly rates, and percentage fees.

Liability: In reference to an accident, liability refers to the legal obligation or legal responsibility for causing a loss. Hereby, the person is obligated to compensate a victim of an accident.

Litigation Risk: A litigation risk portrays the risk of financial loss, which is why it is important for both parties’ lawyers (the plaintiff and defendant) to carefully assess the case, whereby the insurance company of both parties will also join the assessment.


Malingering: When the injured person exaggerates or feigns illness to obtain a greater financial settlement. LT Lawyers does not and will not act for malingerers.

Mediation: A mediator is a neutral person who does not support either party in a conflict or lawsuit. Their purpose is to assist the parties in facilitating communication and, thus, reach a resolution or come to an agreement. 

Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVAC): Although all vehicles in Alberta require valid liability insurance, some owners do not have it. And thus, they cannot cover personal injuries or the death they caused. The MVAC is designed to protect uninsured pedestrians or cyclists who were injured in an automobile accident or collision caused by an uninsured or unknown driver. For example, in the event of a hit-and-run, there won’t be an auto insurance policy to protect the victim. Still, the victim reserves the right to sue and receive compensation for their personal injuries. MVAC’s maximum settlement for victims in Alberta is $200,000.


No-Fault Insurance: Here, the injured person is guaranteed indemnity and compensation from their insurance company, even though it might only be a limited amount. A list of coverage includes wage loss, medication, and treatments, but specifically excludes seeking compensation through the courts for things such as pain and suffering.


Occupier’s Liability: In Alberta, the occupier is responsible for the condition of the premises and the activities and people on them. Therefore, as an occupier, you are legally responsible for your property, including any accident that might occur on it or if the loss occurred as a result of foreseeable risk. For this reason, claims can be made against you if any personal injury or accident occurs on your property. For example, not removing snow or ice on public pathways bordering your property could result in a claim against you for being negligent in maintaining your exterior premises. 


Personal Injury: Personal injury describes physical and/or psychological harm to an individual or group in an accident caused by the negligence of a different party. This is not to be confused with property or financial injury.

Personal Injury Law: In legal terms, personal injury law refers to the involvement of the law to solve a dispute between the plaintiff and the defendant, as well as handle other areas that include insurance, tort, negligence, and other legal disputes. The goal is to get financial compensation for the injured person by highlighting their conditions that may involve bodily injuries, such as whiplash-associated disorder, brain injury, concussion, or broken bones. Or psychological injury that has led to chronic symptoms, income loss, restricted ADL, and more.


Questioning: Questioning describes the process of questioning and answering between two (or more) parties in a lawsuit. Typically, the plaintiff’s lawyer questions the defendant, followed by the defendant’s lawyer questioning the plaintiff. An oath must be taken prior to the questioning. 


Rehabilitation: The rehabilitation process is for the injured person to recover from their injury and return to their normal life, where they are self-sufficient and independent. Private rehabilitation benefits or from an employer may also be available to help the injured person readjust to their lifestyle before the accident. Benefits may include physiotherapy, counselling, and more.


Section A: In the Alberta Standard Owners’ Automobile Policy, Section A refers to the claims made against another person’s insurance company, given the other person was at fault. These claims can be more complicated and often lead to court cases to determine what benefits you will receive.

Section B: In the Alberta Standard Owners’ Automobile Policy, Section B refers to claims made to your own insurance agency right after an accident. The claims should cover medical rehabilitation expenses, loss of income, and other items. Section B benefits in Alberta provide a maximum coverage of up to $50,000 for the duration of two years. Refer to “Accident Benefits.”

Section C: In Section C, no personal injury is suffered; however, it refers to vehicle damage for which you submit a claim to your insurance company for repairs. This is regardless of who is at fault for the accident. 

Subrogation: A subrogation defines the insurance company’s right to pursue legal action against a third party on behalf of the plaintiff, who is the insured person.


TMJ: TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint,” which is a jaw injury resulting from an automobile accident. Personal injury lawyers take this condition very seriously and will always negotiate with the insurance company on the client’s behalf to ensure they receive coverage.

Tort: A tort is a wrongful act that causes physical or psychological distress to an individual regardless of the offender’s intentions. However, there are also non-intentional torts that include negligence and nuisance and may include an accident caused by negligence.


Umbrella Insurance: This type of insurance offers a vast amount of other liability coverages that many general policies do not provide. It typically encompasses personal liability coverage, car insurance, property damage, and more.