What happens when you are seriously injured, allegedly by the negligence of another, but you are unable to produce any direct evident of the fault of a third party? Would Connecticut law allow you to prevail in such a case?
Enter the doctrine of res ipra loquitor, Latin for "the thing speaks for itself", which is a legal theory that permits a jury to infer negligence when no direct evidence of negligence has been introduced.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has held that the doctrine of res ipra loquitor applies only when two prerequisites exist. Those requirements are: first, the situation, condition or apparatus causing the injury must be such that in the ordinary course of events, no injury would have occurred unless someone had been negligent; and second, at the time of the injury, both inspection and operation must have been in control of the party charged with neglect.
If both of these prerequisites are satisfied, a fact finder (a Judge or jury), may properly conclude that it is more likely than not that the injury in question was caused by the defendant's negligence. Giles v. New Haven (1997).
In Giles, the plaintiff was an elevator operator who was injured in an elevator accident. The plaintiff sued for failing to properly inspect, maintain and repair the offending elevator. The plaintiff did not present any direct evidence of these claims but instead relied upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor. Our Supreme Court held that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to warrant presentation of the question of negligence, under the doctrine of res ipra loquitor, to the jury.
Other Connecticut cases where the doctrine has been held to apply involve: the cable of an amusement park ride that broke, which threw the plaintiff to the ground; a woman passing by a store who was injured when glass from the store's window fell upon her; a person who was injured when a suitcase fell from a baggage rack onto her head; a wheel came which came off a truck and struck an individual who was walking on the sidewalk; and a person in a hospital waiting room had a TV fall onto her head and injure her.
It should be stressed that every case is fact specific and must be viewed in the totality of the circumstances but if you are injured and have no direct proof of negligence, you still might be able to prevail in your claim under the theory of res ipsa loquitor.