Res Ipsa Loquitur Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Res Ipsa Loquitur, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Res Ipsa Loquitur?

(n) Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquiter state that things speak for itself. This doctrine is based on the presumption that one is negligent when he has total control over the situation and hence situation will talk for itself

History and Meaning of Res Ipsa Loquitur

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that translates to "the thing speaks for itself." The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur basically means that in some situations, negligence can be inferred from the very nature of the accident or injury that occurred. In other words, if an event happened that would not have occurred in the absence of negligence, and the defendant had exclusive control over the situation that led to the event, then the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that they were not negligent.

Res ipsa loquitur has its roots in English common law, but it has been adopted by many jurisdictions around the world. The doctrine was originally developed in cases involving things like falling objects, collapsing buildings, and exploding barrels. Over time, courts have applied the doctrine to a wide range of situations, including medical malpractice cases, car accidents, and workplace injuries.

Examples of Res Ipsa Loquitur

  1. A patient goes into the hospital for a routine appendectomy, but afterwards they discover that a surgical instrument was left inside their body. In this case, res ipsa loquitur could be used to argue that the only way such a mistake could have occurred is if the surgical team was negligent.

  2. A pedestrian is walking down a city street when a heavy object falls from a building and hits them on the head. In this case, res ipsa loquitur could be used to argue that the only way the object could have fallen is if the building owner or maintenance crew was negligent.

  3. A driver is rear-ended by another driver at a stop sign. The driver who was hit suffers from whiplash and other injuries. In this case, res ipsa loquitur could be used to argue that the only way the accident could have occurred is if the other driver was negligent.

Legal Terms Similar to Res Ipsa Loquitur

  1. Negligence - the failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to another person.

  2. Breach of duty - a failure to meet the standard of care that a reasonable person would have met in similar circumstances.

  3. Causation - the relationship between the defendant's conduct and the plaintiff's injuries.