What Is Res Ipsa Loquitur?

There are hundreds of Latin phrases in personal injury law that are not used in everyday speech. Nevertheless, these Latin phrases can have a substantial effect on the outcome of your personal injury claim. These phrases include res ipsa loquitur.

Proving Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

In most personal injury cases in New York, the victim must prove that the defendant was negligent.

In a car accident case, for instance, the victim must typically demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence caused the collision. Perhaps the driver failed to yield the right-of-way or improperly changed lanes, resulting in a rollover accident. The critical factor is that another driver caused the truck accident.

In a slip-and-fall case, the victim must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about a hazardous condition and was negligent in failing to correct the condition. In cases involving product liability, the victim must demonstrate that the manufacturer was negligent in producing a hazardous product that caused injury.

Each case involving personal injury includes the fundamental elements of a negligence claim. The fundamental elements of a negligence claim are as follows:

  • A party owed a duty of care to the victim.
  • The defendant violated the duty of care.
  • The breach of duty created a hazardous or dangerous circumstance.
  • The victim was injured because of the dangerous or hazardous situation.
  • Damages were incurred by the victim as a result of the breach of duty.

Each element of negligence must be supported by evidence in cases of negligence. In some cases, however, there may be no direct evidence of negligence. In such situations, res ipsa loquitur may assist the victim in recovering damages without direct proof of negligence.

How Does Res Ipsa Loquitur Apply in Personal Injury Cases?

The Latin phrase “res ipsa loquitur” translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” In the absence of direct evidence, “the thing speaks for itself” in a personal injury case indicates that the incident could not have occurred without the negligence of another party.

For instance, pianos do not fall randomly out of windows. However, what happens if a piano falls out of the window and causes traumatic brain injuries to the victim? Someone must have been careless, and that carelessness resulted in the piano falling from the window.

Res ipsa loquitur assumes that negligence was the cause of an occurrence when no other reasonable explanation exists. There is circumstantial evidence. However, the victim could have only been injured due to the negligence of another party.

The victim must prove the following elements for res ipsa loquitur to apply:

  • The accident would not have occurred if someone had not acted negligently.
  • The defendant had direct and exclusive control over the factors that caused the accident.
  • The victim did not contribute to the incident or injury in any way.
  • The presumed negligence fell within the defendant’s duty of care owed to the victim.
  • The evidence in the case excludes the possibility that another party caused the victim’s injuries.

Even if there is no direct evidence of negligence, the jury may infer it if the victim proves all of the above elements.

Receiving Compensation for Damages

Once the jury infers negligence and determines that the defendant is liable for the victim’s injuries, it can award damages. In cases involving res ipsa loquitur, determining damages and assigning a monetary value to those damages is the same as in traditional negligence cases.

The victim is entitled to compensation for a variety of economic and noneconomic damages.

Financial damages may include:

  • Cost of medical treatment and care
  • Loss of wages, benefits, and other sources of revenue
  • Personal care and in-home health care costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Counseling and psychological treatment

The victim is also entitled to compensation for “pain and suffering” resulting from the accident and injury. Non-economic damages are pain and suffering damages. The jury is required to assign a monetary value to non-economic damages.

These variables can increase the value of non-economic damages:

  • The nature and extent of the wounds
  • How long it takes for the individual to recover.
  • Whether the individual suffers from a disabling condition
  • How the person’s injuries have affected their quality of life
  • The monetary losses sustained as a result of the accident.

Permanent impairments and catastrophic injuries increase the value of non-economic damages in the majority of cases.

A victim is required to provide evidence and proof of damages. A personal injury attorney understands how to quantify damages for pain and suffering. Additionally, the attorney knows how to document damages and maximise the likelihood of recovering full compensation for all damages.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm

Contact Abrams Law Group for a free consultation if you’ve been hurt in an accident and require legal assistance.

Abrams Law Group
104-70 Queens Boulevard, Suite 502
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 997-9797

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