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Res Ipsa Loquitur In Clinical Negligence - Aneurin Maloney, Hardwicke

01/03/18. The maxim res ipsa loquitur or ‘the thing speaks for itself’, is a long-standing rule of evidence more commonly utilised in other areas of personal injury law. In a PI setting it has been applied in a wide range of cases from objects falling from buildings, to malfunctioning machines, and unexpected items in food.

There are strict controls on the application of res ipsa loquitur, with 3 conditions:

  1. The event is one that would ordinarily not occur in the absence of fault;

2. The thing causing the damage must have been under the control of the defendant;

3. There is no evidence as to why or how the accident occurred.

Once those conditions are met, the court may infer negligence. It is the defendant who must then prove that the accident was not caused by their negligence. Where the defendant cannot discharge that burden, a claimant may succeed in their claim without proving precisely how their injury was caused...

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