A state appellate court recently released an opinion in a case discussing the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor as it relates to personal injury matters. Res ipsa loquitor is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “the thing speaks for itself.” The doctrine may apply in some Florida personal injury cases where the exact cause of a plaintiff’s injury is unknown, but the nature of the accident is such that it would not likely have occurred absent the defendant’s negligence.
The Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine
Res ipsa loquitor is an old common-law doctrine that allows for the judge or jury to infer a defendant’s negligence from the surrounding circumstances. For the doctrine to apply, Florida courts require the plaintiff to establish three elements. First, the plaintiff must show that the instrumentality that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was in the sole control of the defendant. Second, that the accident resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries would likely not have happened absent the defendant’s negligence. And finally, that no direct proof of negligence is available.
The Case’s Facts
This case involved a woman who was injured as she was exiting an elevator in the defendant condominium complex. According to the court’s opinion, the woman was exiting the elevator when the doors to the elevator suddenly closed on her. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the condo complex, asserting claims under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.