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Res Ipsa Loquitur in Medical Malpractice
Washington, DC; Maryland, and Virginia
If you suffered an injury as a result of surgical error, you may not always be able to pinpoint what went wrong. Res ipsa loquitur is a legal doctrine that can be asserted to present your medical malpractice case when it is not possible to easily establish a specific act of negligence by your doctor that led to your injury. The phrase means "the thing speaks for itself" in Latin, and it allows us to present your case by showing that injuries of your type do not normally happen without negligence, and, since you were under your doctor's custody and control at the time of the injury, the doctor must have committed some act of negligence.
This doctrine is most useful in cases where an injury expressly should not have occurred, such as when a surgical instrument is left in your body or during wrong-site surgery, but in other cases it can still be a useful tool to prove your doctor's negligence and obtain compensation for your injuries. Res ipsa loquitur is one of many legal doctrines that Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. have experience utilizing to win compensation for our clients. To learn how we may be able to help you, please call or email us today for a free initial consultation.
Changing the Burden of Proof
In order for you to receive compensation in your medical malpractice case, we typically must show negligence by your doctor, nurse, hospital, or other medical provider. This consists of showing: 1) there was an act or omission by the defendant inconsistent with the standard of care, and 2) the act or omission led to an injury. However, it is often difficult to prove a specific act or omission in a medical malpractice case, so res ipsa loquitur allows us to pursue your case from a different angle.
To establish res ipsa loquitur, we show:
- Your injury does not typically occur without negligence
- The medical provider was in exclusive custody and control of the instrumentalities that caused the injury
- The medical provider most likely has or can obtain superior knowledge about the incident
In doing this, we can shift the burden of proof onto the medical providers, forcing them to prove that they were not negligent in causing your injury.
When Res Ipsa Loquitur Is Useful
Res ipsa loquitur is useful in cases where it might be hard to establish an exact act of negligence, or when doing so is cumbersome and unnecessary. Types of cases where res ipsa loquitur is useful include:
- Object left in body after surgery
- Wrong site surgery
- When evidence regarding the specific cause of injury is missing and known only to medical practitioner
- Other cases where a particular injury is typically associated with negligence
When Res Ipsa Loquitur Is Not Useful
Res ipsa loquitur is usually not useful in cases where:
- Your injury is a known (even rare) medical complication of the procedure
- Your injury is partly due to failure on your part, such as:
- Failing to disclose a pre-existing condition
- Failing to disclose all medications and supplements
- Failing to follow post-operative instructions
- The medical provider can show other causes for injury
As a result, the use of res ipsa loquitur is limited to only some types of medical malpractice cases.
Why Choose Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C.?
The use of res ipsa loquitur is just one of many nuances of handling a medical malpractice lawsuit. To successfully pursue compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit requires experience in this and many other legal tactics. The lawyers of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel have helped thousands of victims of negligence--including medical malpractice--to get compensation for their injuries, and may be able to help you. To learn more, please contact us today for a free case evaluation.