Res Ipsa Loquitur applications are allowed by the justice system in the New York State and in Court during proceedings in a clear and undoubted situation of a case where the negligence of a person causes harm or injury to an innocent bystander and same can lead to compensation for the victim(s). A Res Ipsa Loquitur case which is also known as “speak for themselves” cases occurs upon a negligent act of a person which obviously leads to the injury of an innocent bystander.
At Law, under the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor, a jury may in some situation conclude negligence where the real cause of an accident is unknown from the occurrence of an event and the defendant’s nexus to the situation. Res ipsa loquitur is a principle of law propounded on the fundamental reason that some accidents would typically not happen if not for negligence especially from the reading of the facts and incidences.
In a Res Ipsa Loquitur case, the jury may draw inferences from previous experiences emblematic, prevalent or common to the community for which in the absence of negligence, the adverse event usually would not occur.
Res Ipsa Loquitor may potentially exist in all type of cases. However, it is predominantly applicable to medical misconduct or malpractice actions of practitioners leading to an injury, for instance, an over-sedated patient during surgery due to negligence.
Fundamentals of Res Ipsa Loquitur Applications
The legal doctrine of Res Ipsa was first laid down in the very famous old English tort case of Byrne v. Boadle 1863. 2 H. & C. 722, 159 Eng. Rep. 299 providing that in some circumstances the mere fact of an occurrence raises an inference of negligence that establishes a prima facie case. Every studentin Law School must study and know this case.
In the above case, the Plaintiff (Bryne) was walking in front of the defendant’s flour shop and was struck by a barrel of flour on his shoulder and knocked towards the defendant’s shop. A witness testified that he saw the barrel fall from the Defendant’s (Mr. Boadle’s) window, but there was no additional evidence to establish or corroborate that the Defendant or his employees acted in such a manner that would make the barrel fall.
The legal team of the Plaintiff argued that no additional evidence was necessary. The facts unaided, was sufficient to establish that the defendant was negligent.
In affirmation, the court applied a three-part test to determine liability, which is to wit:
1. Type of accident: The accident must be one that does not usually occur unless someone is negligent.
2. No contribution from the victim: The condition or situation must not have been due to the plaintiff’s actions or contributions
3. Exclusive Control: An agency or instrumentality must cause the accident within the restricted or exclusive control of the defendant.
The court held that the accident alone provides prima facie evidence of negligence. It is evident that the barrel was in possession of the defendant and his responsibility. The plaintiff does not bear the onus or bound to show that the barrel could not fall without negligence.
Res ipsa loquitur entails a little more than the commonplace rules of circumstantial evidence required or necessary to be proved in certain strange or unusual events, and upon a reasonable evaluation of the probative value of the circumstantial evidence the conclusion of negligence is justified.
In cases of medical malpractice, a plethora of courts in New York has held that Res Ipsa is particularly applicable where the plaintiff’s claimed injury is isolated or remote from the place of the operative procedure and occurred while he was in a sedated or anesthetized state or recovering from the effects of anesthesia. In these circumstances, the victim may not have to eliminate all other possibilities for injury conclusively. The fact that he or she was in this situation may be sufficient to establish a case.
Res Ipsa Loquitor Applications in New York
In the State of New York, other circumstances could give rise to a claim of Res Ipsa in addition to medical errors or malpractices, just as illustrated above in the celebrated case of Bryne v. Boadle (supra). An example of Res Ipsa can occur with persons walking near construction sites, especially if the victim is in an area that is not marked as dangerous.
The City of New York is a very industrialized and commercial city where claims and injuries bothering on Res Ipsa may occur. If you deem yourself as the victim of another person’s negligence, consult an experienced New York personal injury lawyer or attorney to discuss your case and feasible alternatives for legal remedy and compensation.