New York is an at-fault state for personal injury cases. If another party injures you, you can file an insurance claim or personal injury claim seeking damages. However, you have the burden of proving the legal elements of your case by a preponderance of the evidence to win.
Negligence is the basis for many of the personal injury cases in Queens. That includes slip and fall claims, car accidents, construction accidents, premises liability, and medical malpractice. The doctrine of negligence requires you to prove the following:
- A legal duty of care existed between you and the other party
- The other party breached the duty of care through their omissions or actions
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of your injury
- You sustained injuries and damages because of the breach of duty
Proving your cause requires evidence sufficient to convince a jury that there is more than a 50% chance that the other party caused your injuries. Unfortunately, there are situations where there is insufficient evidence to prove each of the required elements of negligence.
In those cases, the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur could help you win your personal injury lawsuit.
What Is Res Ipsa Loquitur and How Does It Apply in a Queens Personal Injury Case?
The phrase “res ipsa loquitur” is translated from Latin as “the thing speaks for itself.” The legal theory uses circumstantial evidence to prove negligence. You assume a party was negligent, even in the absence of direct or actual evidence.
It requires the jury to believe that there is just one logical reason for a specific event to occur. In other words, a party had to be negligent, or the event would not have happened.
Res ipsa loquitur was used in the English tort law case of Byrne v. Boadle in 1863.
Byrne sued Boadle for negligence after he was hit by a flour barrel as he walked along the street. Witnesses testified that a flour barrel fell on him. The flour was being lowered to the street below from a window.
However, there was no direct evidence or testimony that Boadle did anything wrong that would cause the barrel to fall. Therefore, Byrne lost the case at the trial level. He then appealed.
The appellate court had a different opinion. They determined that the barrel would not have fallen except for some act of negligence because barrels just do not fall from above for no reason. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision.
Using Res Ipsa Loquitur To Prove Another Party Is Responsible for Causing Your Injury
If there is no direct evidence proving the other party caused your injury, you must create an assumption of negligence using circumstantial evidence. Then, you argue under the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur that you are entitled to compensation because your injury would not have occurred had negligence not been involved.
Creating the assumption of negligence by using circumstantial evidence requires you to convince a jury that:
- A specific event would not have happened without someone being negligent.
- The defendant was in exclusive and direct control of the circumstances that led to the event.
- You did not have a role in the cause of your injury or the event.
- The presumed negligence was within the legal duty of care owed to you by the defendant.
- The evidence you present during the trial rules out the possibility that another party could have caused your injuries.
If you successfully convince the jury that the above factors are true, the legal theory of res ipsa loquitur allows the jurors to infer negligence without being given any actual or direct evidence. Then, the jury can award damages for your losses and injuries.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Queens Personal Injury Case Based on Res Ipsa Loquitur?
Once the jurors infer negligence on the defendant, they award damages. The damages are the same as a personal injury case based on general negligence. Therefore, you can receive economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- A decrease in quality of life
- Lost wages and benefits
- Disfigurement and impairment
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Long-term skilled care
- Physical pain and suffering
- Diminished earning capacity
- Medical bills and expenses
The amount you receive for damages is based on the facts of the case, including the severity of your injuries and your total financial losses. A Queens personal injury lawyer can help you present a compelling argument using res ipsa loquitur to recover the compensation you deserve for another party’s negligent acts.
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