Click one of the letters below to advance the page to legal and injury-related terms beginning with that letter.


The proceedings in court.


Emotional disposition.


Inability or impaired ability to recognise objects or other events via the senses.


Inability to start movement or slowness in movement.


Loss of memory.


Inability to pronounce words.


The outer part of the vertebral disc.


Loss of smell.


Failure of oxygen supply.




Inability to use or understand language.


Inability to make vocal sounds.


The method of asking the court to decide an issue before the trial of the claim.


Inability to carry out actions.


Unsteadiness of gait.


The warning that an epileptic seizure is imminent.

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A specialist in the preparation and presentation of claims in court: nowadays he should also be a specialist in the topic with which he is dealing, such as injury to the brain and spine.

Broca's area

The part of the brain responsible for the production of speech.

Burr hole

A hole drilled in the skull, usually to suck out blood or insert a gauge for monitoring intracranial pressure.

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The word used as shorthand for the issue whether the claimant is capable of managing his or her property and affairs.

Case management conference

A court hearing at which a judge gives directions about such things as expert witnesses, necessary to progress the case towards a trial.

Cauda equina

"Horses tail": the bundle of nerve roots spreading out from the spinal cord in the lower back.

Cerebral hemispheres

The upper and main part of the brain, which is the seat of higher mental ability and is essential to the regulation of the emotions.

CerebroSpinal Fluid (CSF)

CSF bathes the brain and spinal cord.


The person who has been injured, and who is bringing the action against the person responsible to recover damages.


Deep unconsciousness: "not obeying commands, not uttering words and not opening the eyes".

Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

The formal name for a no win, no fee agreement.


Present at birth.


The surface layer of the brain in which there is a dense concentration of neural matter.


The document served by the defendant in response to the claimant's Schedule of Damage, challenging the parts in issue and explaining the arguments which will be put forward at trial.


Opening the skull.

CT scan

Computerised axial tomography (previously CAT. or EMI. scan). It provides a three-dimensional picture by means of a succession of two-dimensional "slices" and indicates the position and extent of any haematoma.

NOTE: The value of the CT scan must not be over-estimated - a normal scan does not necessarily imply a normal brain.

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Financial compensation.


The court document which sets out the reasons why the Defendant says he is not responsible for the injury or should not pay damages.


The person said to be responsible for the injury.


A deterioration in higher mental ability.

Diffuse axonal injury

Widespread and patchy shearing of the axons (nerve cells) which interconnect areas of the brain - characteristic of severe closed head injury.


Double vision.


Any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.


Socially inappropriate behaviour involving anger, boastfulness, possibly swearing, possibly inappropriate sexual advances etc.


  1. Not fully aware of one's location in time and place.
  2. Left-right disorientation is a confusion between left and right.

District judge or master

The judge who decides the preliminary issues.


The thickest and outermost of the three membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.


Impairment of the ability to pronounce words.


Impairment of memory.


Impairment of the ability to chew and swallow.


Impairment of the ability to use and/or understand language.


Impairment of the ability to carry out actions

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Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Measurement of the electrical activity of the brain.


Inflammation of the brain.

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Facet joints

The small joints at the back of the vertebral column which link the segments together (also known as the apophyseal joints).

Femoral stretch test

Carried out with the patient face down, the knee is bent and the thigh lifted upwards: if painful, it suggests a disc protrusion at L3 or L4.


Local rather than generalised underlying brain damage.

Frontal lobes

The front part of the brain, whose characteristic function is to drive and monitor behaviour.


Functional disorders represent a reaction to disability, to be distinguished from "organic".

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General damages

All parts of the award of compensation which relate to the future (from trial) as distinct from the past (before trial).

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)

Used throughout the world to measure level of responsiveness, to define coma and to measure severity of head injury.

Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS)

Used throughout the western world to measure outcome of head injury.

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A disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability, that limits or prevents the fulfilment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex and social and cultural factors) for the individual.


Loss of part of the visual field.


Weakness of a limb or limbs on one side of the body, so that useful function is lost or limited.


Loss of movement in a limb or limbs on one side of the body.


Excess of CSF - "water on the brain".


A gland in the mid part of the brain which is responsible for controlling many aspects of basic body functions.

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Any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.


An area of dead or damaged tissues resulting from loss of oxygen due to a vascular event.

Interim payment

A partial award of damages, made before the finish of the action, on the basis that the claimant is bound to recover more than the sum asked for at the interim payment hearing.

The sum is limited to "a reasonable proportion of the likely amount of the final judgement".


All stages of the action before the final trial.


Diminished supply of blood.

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The person who decides all the issues in the case: there is no jury.

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The lawyers' term for the question who caused the accident.


There are four lobes on each side of the brain: frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital.


The backward angulation of the spine, causing the hollow.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Non-invasive technique for imaging the brain and other parts of the body.


Related to muscle activity.

Motor insurers bureau

An organisation which exists to make sure that people who are injured recover compensation, even when the driver of the offending car was uninsured, or could not be traced.


The annual figure which is used to calculate future loss: for example, to calculate someone's loss of earnings from the date of trial, one would need to know what he would have been earning at the time of trial had he not been injured.


A mathematical way of calculating future loss from the date of trial, used with the multiplicand.

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No win, no fee agreement

Formally known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), a method for a claimant to fund his or her action, usually supported by an insurance policy to cover the defendants' costs in the event that the action should fail. The claimant does not have to pay legal fees, whatever the outcome of the claim.

Nucleus pulposus

The central, pulpy part of the disc.

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Occipital lobes

The paired structures at the back of the outside surface of the brain which are vital in vision.


Swelling of tissues - this can be a very serious complication after a severe head injury because it can cause death or serious brain damage by compressing the brain tissue against the skull, or by forcing the brain down into the top of the spine.

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Pain, suffering & loss of amenity

The part of the award which is supposed to compensate the person injured for the injury itself, and for the effect it has had on the life and enjoyment of the person.

Parietal lobes

Above and behind the temples, dealing with perception of touch and the integration of all the senses.

Particulars of claim

The court document which set out the nature and detail of the claim, including the reasons why the injury is said to have been the fault of the Defendant, and the extent of the financial claim.

Periodical Payments Order (PPO)

An alternative method of finalising a compensation claim. Instead of the traditional lump sum, a claimant can choose to have some of the compensation as an annual income, guaranteed for life, linked to inflation. A defendant also has the right to choose whether he would prefer to pay compensation by lump sum or PPO. The court has a power to order a PPO if it thinks it appropriate, no matter what the parties say (although this would be highly unusual).


Repetition of action sequences or phrases, which is a common consequence of frontal brain damage.

Persistent Vegetative State (PVS)

Patients remain speechless and devoid of any meaningful contact with others – they show sleep/wake cycles but no evidence of conscious awareness.

Person under a disability

The term which used to be used for a person who is an infant (under 18) or a patient i.e. a person who could not manage his or her own property and affairs by reason of mental disorder – changed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005.


Abbreviation for Personal Injury.


The general term for all the court documents which set out each side's arguments.

Post-concussional syndrome

A group of symptoms including headache, vertigo, poor memory and concentration, and anxiety and depression.




The extreme front of the brain, which plays a part in many of the highest human functions such as planning, envisaging the consequences of actions and so on.


The probable outcome of a condition.

Protected Party/Beneficiary

A person who is unable to make a decision for himself on a particular matter, because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain, whether temporary or permanent, and whether or not it was caused by the accident which is the subject of the claim. During proceedings, such a person is known as a Protected Party. Once damages have been recovered at the end of proceedings, he or she becomes a Protected Beneficiary.


When a disc bulges backwards, without breaking through the surrounding annulus.

Provisional damages

An award, rarely made, for cases where there is a real risk that the claimant will develop a serious deterioration in his physical or mental condition: epilepsy is the usual example, but there are others.

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The lawyers' term for the question how much compensation a claimant should recover.

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X-ray after injection of radio-opaque dye.


The maximisation of the patients' residual capacities. The planned withdrawal of care. The restoration of patients to their fullest physical, mental and social capability. The reduction of the effect of injury on daily life.


The court document which allows the claimant to reply to the points made in the Defence.

Request for further information

The name for the court document which allows either party to ask the other questions about what he has put in any of his court documents.

Roberts v Johnstone

A case which sets out the method of calculating the award where special or adapted accommodation is necessary.

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The bony part of the spine between the lumbar area and the coccyx.

Schedule of damage

This is a very important document which sets out all aspects of the claimant's financial claim.


Twisting of the spine.


"Loss of set" is the inability to maintain a consistent approach to a task.


The mechanism by which nerve fibres are damaged or destroyed in blunt head injury, leading to the tearing of the main process (axons) of the nerve fibres in a widespread, patchy fashion.


The lawyer who handles all aspects of an action, from start to finish: he usually instructs a barrister in relation to the drafting of pleadings, some aspects of advising on the claim and the appearance in court.

Spatial disorders

Difficulty judging distances or angles, and possibly in recognising familiar faces or places - common in the early phases, but less so later unless the injury was very severe or focally located at the rear of the brain.

Special damages

All parts of the award of compensation which have been incurred before the date of the trial.

Statement of case

The name for the formal documents in which any party to proceedings sets out the nature of their claim or defence.


Narrowing of the vertebral canal.

Summary judgment

An order (judgment) made by the court without a full hearing of all the facts, on the basis that there is no real argument against the claim being made by the claimant.

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Temporal lobes

Adjacent to the temples. Damage can lead to cognitive, behavioural and physical disorders.


A major centre for relaying information, including pain sensations from all over the body. It coordinates cortical activity, contributing to memory, emotional responses and the conscious experience of sensation.


The final hearing of the action, at which the judge decides all outstanding issues and makes an award of compensation.

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A series of spaces inside the brain filled with CSF.

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White matter

The actual nerve fibres of the brain which carry the information around the brain – to be contrasted with grey matter, which is collections of nerve cell bodies rather than the fibres of the cells.

With respect

What lawyers say when they are cross, usually with their opponent or the judge, for whom they have little respect.

With the utmost respect

What lawyers say when they are extremely cross, usually with the judge, for whom they have absolutely no respect.

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