Res ipsa loquitur

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In the common law of negligence, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (Latin for "the thing speaks for itself") states that the elements of duty of care and breach can be sometimes inferred from the very nature of the accident, even without direct evidence of how any defendant behaved. Although modern formulations differ by jurisdiction, the common law originally stated that the accident must satisfy the following conditions:

Upon a proof of res ipsa loquitur, the plaintiff need only establish the remaining two elements of negligence—namely, that the plaintiff suffered damages, of which the accident was the legal cause.



Latin phrase

The term comes from Latin and is literally translated "the thing itself speaks", but the sense is well conveyed in the more common translation, "the thing speaks for itself."[1] The Latin sentence is found in Cicero's speech Pro Milone.[2]

Leading case

The legal doctrine was first formulated by Baron Pollock in the English 1863 case Byrne v Boadle.[3]

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