Tort Terms

Brien Roche Law > Tort Law Resources > Tort Terms > R > Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

Brien Roche

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.

Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

Res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence applicable principally to premises liability claims. It states that a jury may conclude that a defendant is negligent if in fact the plaintiff has been injured:

  • as a result of an object which is in the exclusive control of that defendant;
  • the defendant has or should have sole knowledge of the way that object was used;
  • finally the injury is one that would not normally have occurred if the object had been used properly.

Examples of Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

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 above. It had been placed there by the tenant who was doing some spring cleaning. The tenant bumped the dresser drawer. Have the elements of res ipsa loquitur been met? They probably have been. Certainly the dresser drawer was in the exclusive control of the defendant. Also the defendant had exclusive knowledge as to how the dresser drawer was used. In addition 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 elements, you probably would be entitled to recover money against that tenant for her fault. 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.

For more info about other personal injury related elements see the other pages on this site. For more info about res ipsa loquitur see the pages on Wikipedia.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Res Ipsa Loquitur Cases

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Contact Us For A Free Consultation