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affirmative defenses

Defenses used by defendants in medical professional liability suits that allow the accused to present factual evidence that the patient's condition was caused by some factor other than the defendant's negligence.

assumption of risk

A legal defense that holds the defendant is not guilty of a negligent act, since the plaintiff knew of and accepted beforehand any risks involved.

claims-made insurance

A type of liability insurance that covers the insured only for those claims made (not for any injury occurring) while the policy is in force.

comparative negligence

An affirmative defense claimed by the defendant, alleging that the plaintiff contributed to the injury by a certain degree.

contributory negligence

An affirmative defense that alleges that the plaintiff, through a lack of care, caused or contributed to his or her own injury.


A defense that claims innocence of the charges or that one or more of the four Ds of negligence are lacking.


A type of affirmative defense in which the person who comes to the aid of a victim in an emergency is not held liable under certain circumstances.

liability insurance

Contract coverage for potential damages incurred as a result of a negligent act.

occurrence insurance

A type of liability insurance that covers the insured for any claims arising from an incident that occurred, or is alleged to have occurred, during the time the policy is in force, regardless of when the claim is made.

prior acts insurance coverage

A supplement to a claims-made policy that can be purchased when health care practitioners change insurance carriers.

quality assurance/quality improvement

A program of measures taken by health care providers and practitioners to uphold the quality of patient care. Also called quality assurance.

release of tortfeasor

A technical defense to a lawsuit that prohibits a lawsuit against the person who caused an injury (the tortfeasor) if he or she was expressly released from further liability in the settlement of a suit.

res judicata

Literally, "The thing has been decided"; legal principle that a claim cannot be retried between the same parties if it has already been legally resolved.

risk management

The taking of steps to minimize danger, hazard, and liability.

self-insurance coverage

An insurance coverage option whereby insured subscribers contribute to a trust fund to be used in paying potential damage awards.

statute of limitations

That period of time established by state law during which a lawsuit may be filed.

tail coverage

An insurance coverage option available for health care practitioners: when a claims-made policy is discontinued, it extends coverage for malpractice claims alleged to have occurred during those dates that claims-made coverage was in effect.

technical defenses

Defenses used in a lawsuit that are based upon legal technicalities.

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