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Res Ipsa Loquitur: Funny Name, Serious Help For Accident Victims


Here’s a riddle: Can you show someone did something wrong, and thus, caused you an injury, without having to show what they did wrong? It may sound counterintuitive, even silly, but there is something in the law that allows you to do just that.

It’s a legal theory called Res Ipsa Loquitur, and although it may sound funny, it can be a way for injury victims to prove their case, with little or no proof.

How Does Res Ipsa Loquitur Work?

The theory goes like this: Sometimes things happen, and there is no other way that they could happen, other than someone was negligent. In other words, because the only possible explanation for something is that someone was negligent, the victim need not prove anything, other than what actually happened.

A classic example of this is a medical item that is left inside someone, following a surgery. Here’s the problem the victim has: The victim was out cold during the surgery. The victim can’t show who did what or how the item got left inside him. And, likely, the medical records will never note that any item was left inside of someone.

So how does the victim recover? Through Res Ipsa Loquitur. There simply is no other way an item gets left inside someone’s body after surgery, other than negligence. It’s the only plausible explanation. All the victim has to show is that a medical item was left inside his or her body.

Another example is a box that falls from a shelf that is very high up, in an area that only store employees could access it. Boxes don’t normally fall off shelves and on our heads—unless someone did something wrong, and the only person that could have done anything wrong is a store employee.

Note that in both these examples, the Defendant had sole, exclusive control over the dangerous condition–the doctors over the surgical equipment and the store over the top shelf. This is an important part of proving Res Ipsa Loquitur.

No Witnesses? No Problem

In many cases, with Res Ipsa cases, you, as the victim, may not have witnessed all the events before your accident first hand, and there is no evidence to show what happened (nobody makes a special note in store records that they dangerously placed a heavy box on the edge of a tipsy shelf).

Res Ipsa gives you as the victim a “free pass,” allowing you to skip the part of your case where you prove how the Defendant accrued was negligent.

Note that the Defendant can combat your contention, and show that there could have been multiple ways for the accident to happen, other than their negligence. But if they cannot do that, then you have won your case on liability, and the only thing left to be decided will be how damaged or injured that you are.

There are a lot of ways to prove your case. We can help you find the best one. Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today.



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