RES IPSA LOQUITOR | THE ACT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
As we have discussed before, a sustainable lawsuit requires an injured party to demonstrate the liability (fault) of another, at least to some degree, in having caused the incident that resulted in that injury. Most often this is done through witnesses, with the injured party themselves being the most frequent of these witnesses.
There are numerous other sources of direct proof that can show the target of the lawsuit (the Defendant) failed to act with “due care” based upon a duty the Defendant had with respect to the injured party.
BUT SOMETIMES YOU JUST CANNOT SHOW, BY DIRECT PROOF, THAT ANYONE WAS AT FAULT.
In a recent case (Keyser v. KB Toys, Inc.) in Suffolk County New York, a shopper was injured by falling boxes piled high in a toy store. No employees were near the boxes. The jury found for the defendant toy store. The judge set aside the decision !! (Yes, a judge can do that saying that, according to law, there simply was not enough evidence to permit the jury to decide the way it did !!).
The injured party (the Plaintiff) had presented the theory of RES IPSA LOQUITOR which the judge believed was not adequately overcome by the Defendant. This theory is based on the thought that, unless someone was negligent, there are certain events that simply do not occur !
For “RES IPSA LOQUITOR” to be applicable in a case, three elements are necessary:
1. the accident that happened must be of the type that normally would not occur unless there was negligence–an “absence of due care,” by someone;
2. the Defendant had a “duty of care” toward the injured party, specifically in relation to the object that caused the Plaintiff’s injury;
3. the Plaintiff was in NO WAY responsible for the occurrence of the event that lead to the Plaintiff’s injury.
The “Resp Ipsa Loquitor” doctrine is an important tool in the arsenal of the experienced Personal Injury Attorney. This article should clearly demonstrate to the layman that, even in the event it would seem to an injured party that it would not pay to being a lawsuit since “no one is at fault”, there may well be a party that is, indeed, responsible and who should be compelled to fairly compensate the Plaintiff for injuries sustained.