Wrongful Death Legal Glossary M

Mediation: Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, similar in many ways to arbitration in that the parties to a personal injury case come together before a neutral referee (the mediator) in an effort to resolve their dispute. Unlike arbitrations, however, mediations are entirely at the discretion of the parties, so the event can be as formal or informal as desired. And unlike arbitrators, mediators are not expected to render a decision in favor of either of the parties. Rather, the mediator's place is to aid the opponents in negotiating with one another and coming to a mutually agreeable resolution for their dispute. Mediation can take place at any time in the case. Many courts are now strongly recommending the use of mediations before a lawsuit may be brought to trial. It is critical to be properly prepared for mediation because it is a prime opportunity for settlement of a lawsuit without the expense of a court trial. It is also extremely important to know what information should or should not be provided to an opponent at the time of mediation.

Medical Incident: Any act, error or omission during the providing of professional services.

Medical Malpractice: When a person is injured, or if a death is caused, due to the negligence of a health care provider (e.g., doctor or hospital), the injured person (or the family member of the deceased patient) may pursue a medical malpractice claim. This type of claim has many additional rules and requirements that are not common to other types of serious injury claims. Many attorneys are not experienced in this field of litigation.

Medical Practitioner: A person entitled to practice medicine.

Medical Records: In a lawsuit, insurance claim, or wrongful death case, the injured person's medical records are typically the single most important piece of documentary evidence. These records, showing the treating physicians' diagnoses, prognoses, and treatments will establish what specific injuries have been sustained, will show what the long-term expectations are either for recovery from the injuries or for permanent disability, and will specify the types and costs of medical treatment that has been and will be received. It is critically important to know which of an injured person's medical records an opposing insurance company or party to a lawsuit is entitled to receive and which other records are irrelevant and protected by the patient-physician privilege. An insurance adjuster will usually seek to have the injured person sign a "medical records release" as soon as possible so that the insurance company can go on a "fishing expedition" through the injured person's records to see what they might turn up in the way of potentially embarrassing (and often irrelevant) information. For this reason especially, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine what type of record release is or is not proper. Similarly, once a case is in litigation, a defense attorney will attempt to subpoena the medical records of every one of the plaintiff's physicians. Again, it is important that the personal injury attorney carefully guard his client's privacy by limiting these subpoenas to only those records that are relevant.

Misdiagnosis: A medical professional's failure to properly identify and diagnose a patient's medical condition. A doctor can be held liable for any damages that result from a misdiagnosis if the medical mistake was a result of negligence. Medical negligence (a subtype of medical malpractice) is defined as a medical professional's failure to exact the degree of care, skill, and prudence that a reasonable medical professional would in a similar situation.

Misrepresentation: False advertising, especially when ads claim that a product is safer than it truly is.

Motion to Suppress Hearing:  A court appearance where papers are filed and evidence is argued that all evidence against you should be thrown out because your constitutional rights were violated.

Motion: Asking the court to do something. These motions may include discovery motions (i.e. forcing the prosecutor to turn over evidence), motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss the case, and many others.

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