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What is “Res Ipsa Loquitur” in Kentucky Personal Injury Cases?

Res ipsa loquitur isn’t often in personal injury law, but this doctrine of evidence is still good law in Kentucky. The phrase is Latin, and it means that the thing speaks for itself. It allows for a claimant to create a rebuttable presumption using circumstantial evidence that a defendant was negligent.

Rather than having to prove a duty to the claimant, a breach of that duty, causation for an accident and proximate cause for those injuries, a claimant can show res ipsa loquitur through circumstantial evidence and go straight to proving damages if someone doesn’t rebut the presumption. Should a claimant show res ipsa loquitur, the burden of proof shifts over to the defendant. From there, the defendant must prove that there was no negligence.

Proving the Elements of Res Ipsa Loquitur

A claimant need only prove three propositions to raise the res ipsa loquitur presumption. Those propositions follow:

  • It was unlikely that such an accident would have occurred without negligence.
  • The thing or instrumentality that caused the accident was under the defendant’s sole and exclusive control.
  • The claimant was not comparatively negligent.

Circumstantial Evidence

In some personal injury cases, there might not be any direct evidence that there was negligence. That doesn’t mean that a claimant can’t use circumstantial evidence to prove negligence though. That circumstantial evidence is a question for a jury of reasonable people to assess, weigh and draw an inference from on the issue of whether or not there was negligence by the defendant.

An example of res ipsa loquitur is a surgical instrument left in a patient’s body. Another example can be a piece of furniture falling from a skyscraper. It’s a simple matter of common sense. Without negligence, the accident and injuries would never have occurred.

Rebutting the Presumption

Remember that ipsa loquitur only allows a presumption of negligence. However, a defendant can rebut that presumption. For example, a defendant might show that the piece of furniture flew out of that window when a microburst or tornado hit the building. Showing that the claimant shares responsibility for his own accident and injuries is also rebuttal evidence.

The issue of whether the thing or instrumentality that caused the accident and injuries wasn’t under the defendant’s sole and exclusive control is also a viable defense. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, a defendant might argue that he or she did not owe the claimant a duty of care.

Talking about the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is far easier than employing it. At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, our Kentucky personal injury lawyers cover all of the bases, so if another legal theory also applies to an accident, we’ll include that in any claim or lawsuit in order to give you the best chance possible at prevailing.

After sustaining an injury from any type of accident in Kentucky due to the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, contact us right away for a free consultation and case review. We’ll can to answer your questions and advise you on all of your legal options. If we represent you, our goal will be to obtain the highest settlement or award that you’re entitled to.

Contact a Lawyer About Res Ipsa Loquitur In Kentucky

If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait to call us. Speak to a representative at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC at (502) 458-5555 to discuss your case and get the help you deserve.

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