Res Ipsa Loquitur: What The (Bleep) Does That Mean And How Can It Help Me In A Personal Injury Case

Posted By Michael R. Varble || 23-Oct-2013

In today's blog post, I discuss the legal concept of res ipsa loquitur, what it means, how it affects a personal injury case and how it can help you if you are faced with a case that is difficult to prove.

Res Ipsa Loquitur is a common sense application of the probative value of circumstantial evidence, rather than a separate legal theory. Without a viable negligence claim, there is no basis for the use of this legal theory. In layman's terms, Res Ipsa Loquitur is a legal theory that will allow a jury to use circumstantial evidence to find that there is negligence when there is no direct evidence of the actual happening of the event. The doctrine can be used before a jury even when some of the circumstances of the accident are known. The New York State Court of Appeals has even recently stated that the doctrine is nothing more than a brand of circumstantial evidence. Its use can be helpful to you if you were injured in an accident and you don't know exactly how the accident happened.

The classic example of a situation where Res Ipsa Loquitur has been used is in a medical malpractice action where a patient was injured while under anesthesia and the patient was injured in a place that is remote from the surgical site. In this situation, the plaintiff, who was under anesthesia at the time, would not be able to prove how he or she was injured. There is simply no way that the Plaintiff, who was incapacitated at the time, could testify about what happened at the time he or she was injured. So what do you need to show to be able to use this doctrine ?

The doctrine can only be used when the unexplained circumstances of the case justify the use of the doctrine. In other words, the case has to be more likely than not one where the incident would not have occurred without someone's negligence. Second, there must be a connection between the defendant's exclusive control of the instrumentality involved in the accident and the incident that led to the plaintiff's injury. The defendant doesn't have to be the only person who has exclusive control of the instrumentality, like an elevator that is owned by a building owner and is serviced by a maintenance company. The plaintiff, while he or she does not need to conclusively eliminate every possibility of an alternative explanation, must show that the version of events involving the defendant's negligence is the more plausible alternative explanation for the occurrence. The injured party also cannot have contributed to the happening of the incident for this doctrine to apply.

How does the use of this doctrine help you in an injury case ? It allows you, and your attorney, to have a case placed before a jury where you cannot specifically show how an incident occurred and the jury can infer negligence from the circumstance. This is the type of case that many attorneys and clients would consider to be a difficult case to prove. However, we can help you find a way to recover if you have been injured and you have a problem explaining how the incident happened.

If you find yourself having difficulty explaining how an accident happened where you or someone you know was injured, call us for a free consultation and a free case evaluation. The attorneys at Michael R. Varble have over 150 years of combined litigation experience. We have handled almost any type of claim imaginable. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to represent you in even the most difficult cases. Call us at 1.800.900.6204 for a free consultation today.Michael R. Varble & Associates, P.C., we'll fight for you !

Categories: Personal Injury

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