In a New York premises liability case, a plaintiff may not be able to conclusively prove that a defendant’s negligence caused an injury. However, there may be enough circumstantial evidence available to lead to that conclusion. In such a case, a plaintiff would be establishing his or her case through the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, a Latin phrase that can be translated to “the thing speaks for itself.

There are three elements that a plaintiff must show before a jury can find for the plaintiff in a case that is predicated on res ipsa loquitor. First, it must be shown that the event couldn’t take place without someone’s negligent behavior. Second, the evidence must rule out the possibility that the plaintiff’s actions led to an injury. Finally, it must be shown that the defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff.

A defendant may not be found liable under this doctrine if he or she can prove that one of the three criteria weren’t met. For instance, a property owner wouldn’t have due care to protect a trespasser if he or she got hurt. If the plaintiff ignored warning signs or was in an area without protective gear, those actions may have caused an injury.

An individual who is injured while at the grocery store or on any other unsafe premises may wish to contact a premises liability attorney who may be able to establish that negligence on the part of the property owner was the only way in which an accident that led to injuries could have occurred. This may entitle an individual to compensation that could include the costs of medical care.

Source: FindLaw, “Res Ipsa Loquitur”, accessed on Jan. 20, 2015