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Personal injury definitions

Injury Law Glossary.


Arrears is money that should have been paid at an earlier date, i.e. an outstanding payment or debt.

Burden of Proof

Burden of proof is the obligation on the party who is bringing the claim to court to prove all the allegations of that claim.

Case Law

Case law is the written decisions of judges in court cases. The previous rulings, or precedents, can be binding or persuasive for judges making decisions in new cases. The principle behind precedent-based law is that the law should be applied consistently throughout Canada and the individual provinces and territories. Lawyers look at the facts of a situation and find case law that is relevant to both determine how a judge might decide a case and argue that a case should be decided in a particular way.

Chronic Injury

A chronic injury is an injury that persists for a long time, typically a number of years. A chronic injury is long-term and of indefinite duration.

Contingency Fee

contingency fee is an agreed-upon percentage of the winning settlement or award paid to your lawyer at the conclusion of your claim. This contrasts with an hourly fee, where a lawyer is paid for their service by the hour.

Cost of Future Care

Cost of future care is a term used to describe compensation received for injury victims who require medical and other support in the future after the case is settled or brought to trial.

CPPD Benefits

Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits are a partial income replacement designed for eligible CPP contributors who are under the age of 65 with a severe and prolonged disability.


A disbursement is an expense paid by a law firm on behalf of their client, such as court filing fees, courier fees, photocopying costs, and fees for expert reports. Disbursements are repaid by the client at the conclusion of the claim when they are deducted from the settlement or award. Learn more.

Discovery Hearing

A discovery hearing is a meeting between both parties in an injury case which allows them to gather evidence and information necessary to present their side at trial. This can include dispositions, subpoenas, and request for documents. Learn more.

General Damages

General damages is one head of damages that you can claim for in a personal injury lawsuit which compensates you for pain, suffering, and loss of amenities caused by your injuries. Amenities are activities that a person does for enjoyment and not for profit or necessity. Read our General Damages Guide to learn more.

Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters are representatives who investigate an injured person’s insurance claim on behalf of the insurance company. Since the insurance adjuster works in the interests of the insurance company paying out the settlement, adjusters will often try to convince an injured party to accept a low settlement or deny their claim outright. They are sometimes referred to as “claims adjusters”.

Long Term Disability Insurance (LTD)

Long Term Disability is sometimes abbreviated as “LTD.” Typically, a person will buy LTD insurance from a broker, or it may be a benefit they receive through their employer. An LTD insurance policy will typically provide a monthly benefit when they must go off work for medical reasons.

Loss of Earning Capacity

Loss of earning capacity is a term used by the courts in personal injury cases to describe a global lump sum award when a person has lost some of their ability to work due to their injuries but the loss cannot be calculated with precision.

Loss of Future Wages

Loss of future wages is a term used by the courts in personal injury claims to describe the compensation received by an injured party for the wages they will not receive in the future because they have had to stop working due to their injuries.

Loss of Housekeeping Capacity

Loss of housekeeping capacity is a term used by the courts in personal injury claims to describe the compensation received by an injured party for the loss of ability to do housework or other valuable services around the home due to their injuries.


Mediation is the process by which a lawyer representing an injury claimant and an adjuster representing an insurance company work with an independent third party, sometimes a retired lawyer, to negotiate a settlement that satisfies both parties.

Minor Injury

A minor injury is a physical injury that does not result in permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function or serious disfigurement. In Nova Scotia, it is further defined as an injury that resolves within 12 months after an accident.

Negligent Party

A negligent party is a person or corporation who is the named defendant in a civil claim for personal injury. Whether or not a person is negligent in each circumstance is up to the courts to determine. If someone is negligent, then their conduct is substandard. For example, in automobile accident cases, the standards are determined by traffic laws and best practices for driving safely. Someone who does not obey traffic laws and causes an accident would be considered negligent.


Negotiation is the process by which a lawyer representing an injured party and a representative of the insurance company communicate and exchange offers in an effort to reach a settlement rather than go to trial.

Non-Pecuniary Damages

Non-pecuniary damages is a term used to describe compensation received for the components of a claim that cannot be easily measured in monetary terms but are still needed to fully compensate an injured party. These type of damages are highly subjective in nature and are meant to reflect such things as an individual’s loss of enjoyment of life or their pain and suffering.

Objective Evidence

Objective evidence is medical or professional evidence that relies on objective diagnoses obtained through testing which supports the existence of a condition, injury, or illness and related limitations.

Past Lost Wages

Past lost wages is a term used to describe compensation for the wages an injured party lost due to the negligence of another party. It describes the wages lost until the date of trial or settlement.

Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer is a lawyer who represents people in civil court who have suffered injury at the fault of another. Usually the person at fault is insured. Often, personal injury lawyers are suing an insurance company rather than the named defendant who caused the injury.

Pre-Judgment Interest (PJI)

Pre-judgment interest (PJI) is interest awarded to an injury victim to compensate them for the loss of the use of the money from the time of the accident to the time the judgment is rendered.

Serious Impairment

Serious impairment is the impairment of a cognitive or physical function that affects one’s ability to reasonably carry out their daily activities or regular employment.


A tort is a civil wrong. The word “tort” in origin comes from the idea of twisting a wrong back into a right. Tort law gives people the option of seeking justice against a party who has wronged them through the civil courts. Individual torts developed through the common law over hundreds of years in England. Even today, the law about torts continues to develop with new decisions from the courts.


WAD 2, or Whiplash Associated Disorder Grade II, is whiplash that includes a neck complaint and musculoskeletal signs including tenderness and decreased range of motion.

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