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Liability and the principle of res ipsa loquitur

Florida residents who have suffered an injury on someone else's property may be able to demonstrate the property owner's negligence using the common law principle of res ipsa loquitur. This doctrine can under some circumstances enable a plaintiff to use circumstantial evidence to establish a presumption of negligence.

In order to use the doctrine, three factors must be in place. The defendant must have a certain duty toward the plaintiff, the evidence must make it impossible for the injury to have happened due to a third party or the plaintiff, and negligence must have occurred to cause the accident.

The first provision means that if an individual is trespassing, the defendant may have no duty toward the plaintiff. One criterion that may be used to decide whether the injury is solely the responsibility of the defendant is whether the instrument that caused the action was under the exclusive control of the defendant. For example, if a surgeon leaves a sponge inside in a patient, the sponge presumably would have been exclusively in the surgeon's control. Finally, if a person is hit by something that falls out of a window, that may indicate negligence because if proper safety measures had been in place or the thing had not been in the window, the person would not have been hit.

An individual who has been injured on someone's property when these three factors seem to be in place may want to consult an attorney. In a case involving premises liability, a plaintiff may be seriously injured and may be faced with expensive medical bills and a loss of wages due to an inability to work. An attorney may be able to outline the best courses of action.

Source: FindLaw, "Res Ipsa Loquitur", accessed on Feb. 5, 2015

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