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Res Ipsa Loquitur – What It Is And Why You Need To Know

You may have heard people talk about negligence, whether at work or in conversation. No doubt, you may have heard one of the many attorney advertisements on television or the radio, explaining that you have rights and may be entitled to recovery from an accident. But did you know there are actually types of accidents where negligence is actually implied just by virtue of the fact that the accident happened? The term res ipsa loquitur is more than just fancy language; it is a concept that can make all the difference.

What Is Res Ipsa Loquitur?

The term literally means, “the matter speaks for itself.” There are times when an injury is caused in such a way that absent someone’s negligence, it could not have happened. The classic example from every law school textbook was the nineteenth century case of a man walking down the street who is hit on the head by a falling barrel of flour. The court determined that there is no other way such a thing could happen if not for someone being negligent. After all, barrels of flour do not just naturally fall from the sky. Similarly, there is no reasonable purpose for tossing barrels of flour into the street where people walk. So the only logical conclusion is that such an event implies negligence on someone’s fault.

Does This Mean If Res Ipsa Loquitur Applies, I Will Automatically Be Paid?

Absolutely not. It only answers one of the more difficult questions in a negligence case. In general, to prove a case for personal injuries, you and your lawyer have to establish that someone committed negligence and that negligence is the reason you were hurt. While this is a simplification, you would still have to prove whose negligence it was and how much the damages were. Many of the same challenges still remain, such as filing within the time limit, navigating insurance company tactics, and so forth. However, it certainly does make for a stronger case in many instances.

What Types Of Cases Are Considered Res Ipsa Loquitur?

Attorneys see these cases in many contexts. For example, some construction-related accidents involve a person walking by a construction site and being hit by falling objects or tools, much like the classic example above. Another common example is parked vehicle accidents. These are cases where one person is parked legally and another vehicle crashes into the stationary vehicle. In many ways, you could argue that the matter “speaks for itself.” After all, if not for someone’s negligence, how would a parked car be involved in a collision? However, keep in mind that the negligence may not necessarily be the driver of the other vehicle. What if the vehicle was a corporate car that had been improperly maintained and its brakes failed? Then the negligence may be the company, not the driver. Likewise, perhaps the driver swerved to miss an improperly fashioned construction barrier that was negligently built by city road crews. Again, the party at fault may be different. Therefore, just proving that negligence caused the injury is not enough.

As you can see, even the most obvious cases where the “matter speaks for itself” usually require the skilled assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or someone you love has been injured, contact the Romero Law Firm in Tampa Bay to schedule a free consultation right away.

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