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Medical Malpractice Terms You Should Know

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Medical Malpractice


Do you believe you or a loved one has suffered because a doctor didn’t do their job? At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we are approached by many people each year who have experienced careless and inadequate medical care. We have represented individuals whose conditions went untreated, got worse, and caused them pain all because a doctor did not treat them appropriately. Some of our medical malpractice cases involve patients undergoing the wrong procedures or surgeries on the wrong areas of their body. They went through significant and risky procedures that were entirely avoidable. We also have represented many individuals who lost loved ones due to improper medical care.

Our medical malpractice attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. are prepared to represent you in a medical malpractice injury or wrongful death claim in Illinois. We are highly knowledgeable and experienced in medical malpractice cases, but we know you are just learning. Our legal team wants to be sure you have all of the information you need before contacting an attorney and throughout your case. Below are various medical practice terms you should know.

To learn more about Illinois medical malpractice law, do not hesitate to call us at to schedule your free consultation.

Legal and Medical Malpractice Terms to Know

If you are or may be part of a medical malpractice lawsuit, you should know:

  • Affidavit: A voluntary written statement or declaration of facts made under oath that it is true.
  • Allegation: An assertion by one party in a pleading, which that party intends to prove in court.
  • Answer: A written reply by a defendant concerning the allegations within the complaint.
  • Assumption of Risk: A defense that the plaintiff recognized the potential danger of the plaintiff’s actions and agreed to the conduct nonetheless.
  • Burden of Proof: The degree to which the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s liability to win their case.
  • Case Law: This is law based on past court decisions.
  • Cause of Action: These are facts that are enough to enable one party to sue another.
  • Cause in Fact (Direct Cause): An injury would not have happened if not for a specific action or event.
  • Collateral Source Rule: Receiving monetary benefits from another source other than the defendant, such as a health insurer, does not diminish a plaintiff’s damages.
  • Comparative Negligence: A defense that the plaintiff was also negligent, which led to or impacted the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Complaint: This is an official legal document that sets out specific facts and legitimate reasons for a plaintiff filing suit against one or more defendants.
  • Complication: A complication is an adverse effect that is the result of pre-existing factors outside of a medical professional’s control.
  • Cross Examination: This is the questioning of a witness during the trial, a hearing, or a deposition by the other party’s attorney.
  • Damages: Economic and non-economic injuries a person suffers due to another person’s conduct.
  • Decedent: A deceased person.
  • Default: A party’s failure to file documents or appear in a civil court case before the court’s deadline.
  • Defendant: The person(s) or business(es) a lawsuit is filed against.
  • Deposition: A person’s pre-trial testimony given out of court and under oath.
  • Direct Examination: This is when the attorney questions a witness who they called into court.
  • Discovery: The pre-trial process through which the parties request evidence from each other and review the evidence that may be presented at trial.
  • Dismissal: This is a court order ending the case. A dismissal with prejudice prohibits the plaintiff from bringing the same lawsuit again. A dismissal without prejudice allows the plaintiff to sue again for the same reason.
  • Duty of Care: The standard of how a person or business should behave concerning others. A general duty of care is to act as a reasonably prudent person would under the circumstances. Professionals, such as doctors, may have a specific duty of care toward their patients.
  • Evidence: Any fact presented at trial through the presentation of testimony, documents, video or audio, or physical objects.
  • Exhibit: Any objects or documents presented as evidence during a trial.
  • Failure to Warn: A physician does not inform a patient about one or more potential material risks associated with a medical procedure.
  • Gross Negligence: A significant, and sometimes malicious or intentional, breach of a person or business’s duty of care. This is often referred to as recklessness.
  • Hospital-Acquired Infection (HAI): An infection a patient obtained during their hospitalization, which was not present in the patient before their hospital admittance.
  • Improper Treatment: A treatment for a medical condition, illness, or injury that deviates from the treatment options widely accepted by the medical community.
  • Indemnity: An agreement through which one party financially protects another party against foreseeable financial losses.
  • Informed Consent: A patient giving a medical provider permission to conduct a particular medical service once they are aware of the potential risks and consequences of the service.
  • Interrogatories: A type of discovery in which one party submits written questions to the other party that they must answer under oath.
  • Judgment: A court’s official decision.
  • Liability: Legal responsibility for harm caused to an individual.
  • Litigant: A party involved in a lawsuit.
  • Litigation: The process of settling a dispute within the court system.
  • Medical Lien: The right of a physician, health care provider, or health care facility to claim an interest in the financial recovery derived from a personal injury or medical malpractice case for the services that party provided.
  • Medical Malpractice: A type of legal claim a patient or patient’s surviving family members can bring against a medical professional or facility based on negligent medical care causing the patient harm.
  • Medical Negligence: A medical professional’s failure to uphold the standard of conduct for their profession.
  • Medication Error: Any preventable action that caused inappropriate medication use or patient harm.
  • Misdiagnosis: An incorrect medical conclusion regarding a patient’s medical condition, illness, or injury.
  • Mistrial: A trial that is invalid and does not resolve the plaintiff’s legal claim.
  • Motion: An application to the court to decide regarding a specific matter within the case.
  • Negligence: When a person or business does not uphold its duty of care toward another person. This is often referred to as carelessness.
  • Plaintiff: The party who files a lawsuit against one or more defendants.
  • Physician-Patient Relationship: A physician-patient relationship exists when a physician serves a patient’s medical needs. This relationship is typically entered into with both party’s consent. Although in emergency circumstances, a limited relationship can be created without the patient’s explicit permission.
  • Pleadings: Written statements of claims made during a court case.
  • Preponderance of the Evidence: A burden of proof in which the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the plaintiff caused them harm.
  • Prescription Error: A failure in the prescription process resulting in a patient not correctly receiving an intended prescription.
  • Proximate Cause: The defendant’s injury was a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s conduct.
  • Statute of Limitations: The length of time a person has to file a particular type of cause of action.
  • Subpoena: A legal document from a court that orders a person to appear in court and provide testimony or evidence.
  • Surgical Error: An error or mistake committed by a health professional during a surgical procedure that results in additional harm to the patient.
  • Tort: This is considered a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, which gives rise to a cause of action.
  • Trial: The formal process through which a plaintiff and defendant present their evidence for a jury or judge to reach a verdict.
  • Wrongful Death: A person’s death was the result of negligence, gross negligence, or intentional misconduct, resulting in a legal claim for the surviving family members or decedent’s estate.

Do You Believe You Have a Medical Malpractice Case? Contact Our Firm Today

If you believe you have a medical malpractice case against a physician, medical provider, clinic, hospital, or another facility in Illinois, do not hesitate to call us at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at to set up a no-cost case review.

We will conduct an investigation of your situation and provide you with an objective opinion regarding your right to file a medical malpractice suit. If you have a legal claim, we can represent you in pursuit of compensation from a negligent doctor or facility. Do not hesitate to contact our skilled medical malpractice attorneys right away.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900