Those of you with some knowledge of Latin may appreciate the term res ipsa loquitur. Literally this Latin term means the thing speaks for itself.
Accident attorney Brien Roche reports res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence applicable principally to premises liability claims that states that a jury may conclude that a defendant is negligent if in fact the plaintiff has been injured:
True res ipsa loquitur cases are fairly rare.To take a textbook example of that, suppose you are walking down the street and a dresser drawer falls on your head. It so happens that the dresser drawer came from the apartment window above. It had been placed there by the tenant who was doing some spring cleaning.The tenant accidentally bumped the dresser drawer. Have the elements of res ipsa loquitur been met in this instance? They probably have been.The dresser drawer was in the exclusive control of the defendant. The defendant had exclusive knowledge as to how the dresser drawer was used. The injury is one that would not normally have occurred if the dresser drawer had been used properly.
As long as you can prove those basic elements, you probably would be entitled to recover money against that tenant for her negligence.It is always a little dangerous for a plaintiff to assume that the principle of res ipsa loquitur is going to apply in any case. It is much safer to be prepared to prove all of the elements of your case without the benefit of this doctrine.