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What Is Res Ipsa Loquitur?

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An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Breaks It Down

In most personal injury cases, direct evidence of negligence is necessary to reach a conclusion against the defendant, but not always.

In Washington, D.C., civil injury cases, it is possible to win your claim without it.

That's because the local courts observe the legal doctrine "res ipsa loquitur," which loosely translates to "the thing speaks for itself."

This principle is unique and narrowly applied in specific circumstances. It would be very unwise for a prosecutor to attempt to use it in criminal court where the burden of proof is higher than it is in civil matters.

However, in injury cases, with enough circumstantial evidence and the skill of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can apply res ipsa loquitur to make an effective argument for help with accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, car repairs or replacement, among other losses.

Types Of Injury Evidence

Most injury claims don't require an attorney to prepare a res ipsa loquitur argument. Oftentimes, personal injury attorneys can locate and preserve the hard evidence you need to win your case.

Types of evidence frequently presented in personal injury cases include:

  • Surveillance/security video or photos
  • Lease agreements or property contracts
  • Police and accident reports
  • Witness statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Property history and records

When this type of evidence is not available, an invocation of res ipsa loquitur may be the right move. By using this tactic, your attorney is saying that there is enough circumstantial evidence to rule out anything other than negligence on the part of the owner or operator.

Your attorney will have to prove that your injuries could not be the result of normal activities and that the scope of your injuries falls within the owner or operator's duty of care.

What Is Duty Of Care?

In general, "duty of care" means an owner or operator has a responsibility to provide an environment that will not injure others due to known hazards or hazards a reasonably responsible person would be aware of or anticipate. When this standard has not been met, an owner or operator is most likely liable for your injuries.

The duty of care a property owner owes another depends on whether the nonowner was invited (either personally or by reasonable implication) or trespassing. An owner does not owe a trespasser the same level of care that they owe a guest.

Typically, a successful claim for injury compensation will meet four benchmarks:

  • The owner or operator of the property owes you a duty of care
  • That duty was breached by the owner or operator's negligence
  • This reckless act directly led to your injuries
  • Those injuries led to personal losses

Reject Lowball Settlement Offers

Even when the at-fault person admits that they acted negligently, don't expect the injury claim process to be simple. Insurance companies will often make their own determination of fault before making a dismissive lowball settlement offer.

Never accept a settlement before consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to calculate the true value of your claim.

Find out how an established attorney can help you get your life back on track after a bad accident. The Law Office Of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC offers free case evaluations to people injured in the greater Washington, D.C. area, Maryland and Virginia.

If you were injured or lost a family member to a bad accident, contact our law firm right now to schedule your free case evaluation. We are ready to hear from you 24/7.

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