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How the legal term res ipsa applies to personal injury cases

People from Illinois might not know that the legal term res ipsa loquitur is Latin for 'the thing speaks for itself." The phrase first originated from a case in which a person became injured after a barrel of flour fell from a warehouse that he was walking next to.

The attorney representing the injured person argued that there was circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact that even though the defendant did not intentionally act in a negligent way, the barrel still would not have fallen and caused injury to the plaintiff if it was not owned by the warehouse. The attorney showed that there was no other explanation that could account for how the plaintiff was injured, proving that inferred negligence should make the defendant responsible for causing the injury to the plaintiff.

Res ipsa is often used in personal injury lawsuits to establish that a defendant is responsible for proving why they were not acting in a negligent way. If the defendant is unable to successfully prove their case, they might be held responsible for causing the plaintiff's injuries. In res ipsa, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the event that caused injury would not have occurred unless the defendant had acted in a negligent manner and that there is no possibility that the injury could have occurred because of the plaintiff's actions.

Whenever a person becomes injured because of dangerous property, it is possible that res ipsa could be established. As in the case of the injury that was caused to the plaintiff by a falling barrel, an attorney might be able to assist with building a case by arguing that res ipsa makes the defendant responsible for negligence. In some cases, the injured party might be able to receive financial compensation.

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