The Law Of RES IPSA Loquitur
Sometimes, a person can suffer an injury that could not have otherwise happened unless an adverse party was negligent. A simple example of this type of negligence is when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part, or leaves a surgical tool or sponge inside of a patient. The law recognizes when this type of negligence occurs, special considerations should be granted to the injured party. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur permits proof of negligence by circumstantial evidence when the direct evidence concerning the cause of the injury is primarily within the knowledge and control of the defendant. In order to invoke the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the plaintiff (injured party) must establish only two elements.First, the plaintiff must establish that she was injured in an occurrence which would not have happened in the absence of negligence; and second, that the instrumentality or agency causing the accident was under the management or control of the defendant. Although the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur previously encompassed proving that the injury was not a result of an act or omission on plaintiff’s part, Supreme Court decisions and the adoption of comparative negligence (which we will review in a later article), has meant that the plaintiff no longer needs to plead or prove this third element. In determining the amount of control required to invoke the res ipsa loquitur doctrine, the Illinois Supreme Court has rejected the application of the rigid standard and has instead recognized that “exclusive control” is not necessary. The plaintiff must simply establish that the instrumentality which caused the injury was in the control of the defendant at the time of the negligence and that there were no changes in conditions or intervening acts that could reasonably have caused the event which resulted in the injury. The purpose of these requirements is to link the defendant with the probability that the accident would not ordinarily have occurred in the absence of negligence; that it was the defendant’s negligence which caused the accident. A plaintiff is not required to conclusively eliminate all other potential causes of the injury. The plaintiff need only present sufficient evidence to enable a jury to conclude that the injury was, more probably than not, the result of the defendant’s actions, rather than the actions of another party. "If you have suffered an injury, of any type, the Law Firm of Gardi and Haught, Ltd., will fight to get you the compensation that you deserve. Please contact us at 847-944-9400 for a free consultation."
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