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Understanding res ipsa loquitur laws

One concept which many Ohio residents who follow legal issues have a lot of interest in is the common law principle of res ipsa loquitor. This allows plaintiffs to establish a presumption of negligence on the defendant's part in a civil tort action. When an accident occurs, in the absence of direct evidence, circumstantial evidence may be possible as proof that negligence occurred. In these cases, the judge and jury make their determination based on certain overall facts. The doctrnie comes from the Latin phrase for "the thing speaks for itself".

It originated in a famous 19th century British case where an injured plaintiff was hurt when a barrel of flour fell from a warehouse window. The requirements that arose from this doctrine cover three important areas. One is that the event would not have occurred in the absence of someone's negligence. The second is evidence that neither a third party nor the plaintiff were responsible for the injury. The final requirement is that the negligence involved fell within the confines of the defendant's duty owed to the plaintiff.

When a plaintiff slips and falls while patronizing a commercial establishment and files suit against a property owner for the recovery of damages attributable to the resulting injury, the defendant may try to refute the presumption of negligence. Some of the common arguments include alleging that the event would have happened regardless of the circumstances or that the plaintiff was negligent. In some cases, defendants try to prove that their duty to the defendant was limited.

Premises liability cases are some of the most controversial cases where accidents and injuries are concerned. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is a good way to determine the best course of action and ascertain the remedies that may be available.

Source: FindLaw, "Res Ipsa Loquitor", accessed on Jan. 23, 2015

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