Res ipsa loquitor is a California evidentiary rule for determining whether circumstantial evidence of negligence is sufficient for a plaintiff to prove a defendant liable for their injuries.
Continue to read about the application of res ipsa loquitor in personal injury claims and lawsuits.
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Res Ipsa Loquitor
Under the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, in a personal injury lawsuit where an injury victim has suffered harm but there is no direct evidence of the defendant’s negligent conduct (such as in an airplane crash) a defendant may be found negligent (liable) if:
- The plaintiff’s harm ordinarily would not have happened unless the defendant was negligent;
- The harm to the plaintiff was caused by something that only the defendant controlled; and
- That the plaintiff’s voluntary actions did not cause or contribute to the negligent events that harmed them.
Res Ipsa Loquitor | Circumstantial Negligence
If a jury finds that the plaintiff proved all three elements of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, they may but are not required to find that the defendant was negligent or that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm, or both.
Example Scenario 1: Julio books a private jet flight from San Diego to San Francisco, California. During the flight the plane experiences trouble and is forced to crash land over the Pacific Ocean. The plane explodes and Julio sustains fatal injuries. The jet is lost at sea along with the black box recorder. Airplane crashes are perfect examples where res ipsa loquitor is plead because of the unavailability or destruction of evidence.
Example Scenario 1 (cont’d): The defendant private jet company contends that they were not negligent for the plane’s crash or Julio’s death. If after weighing all of the evidence, a jury believes that is its more probable than not that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence was a substantial factor in causing the Julio’s death, then a jury must decide in favor of Julio’s heirs.
Res Ipsa Loquitor | General Negligence
If a jury decides that an injury plaintiff did not prove one or more of the three elements of the res ipsa loquitor doctrine, they may still find the defendant negligent in light of other causes of action (likely on theories of liability based on negligence or negligence per se).
Res Ipsa Loquitor | Personal Injury Lawsuits
The res ipsa loquitor doctrine may be used in personal injury cases to prove that a defendant car owner or property owner are liable for injuries suffered on their property or by people driving their vehicle.
Ordaz Law, APC | Res Ipsa Loquitor
Juan J. Ordaz Jr. provides candid, hardworking and personal legal representation to individuals seeking a personal injury lawyer in San Diego County. We help victims suffering from a variety of injuries, who have sustained their injuries through different types of injury producing events. We believe that it is a necessity to represent people who have sustained traumatic and debilitating injuries, and suffered ultimate losses.
Call (619) 550-3617 today so that we may schedule your free and discreet consultation with a premier San Diego personal injury lawyer.