Can I sue Another Party for Damages in a Maryland Personal Injury Case Even if I don’t Have “Hard Evidence” that the Defendant’s Actions Led to My Injuries?
Depending on the type of case and specific circumstances leading to your injuries; Yes, you may be able to file a claim of negligence against another individual without the need for specific evidence or expert testimony. With that said, however, it is important to have a complete understanding of the Maryland legal statutes that govern personal injury lawsuits. Most qualified attorneys working in this area of the law should be able to assess your case and explain whether or not a potential lawsuit has merit, even if you can’t provide substantive evidence to back up your claim.
There are frequent situations where a plaintiff is unable to present the Court with legal evidence that would support his or her claim of negligence against another individual; yet, some plaintiffs can ultimately prevail by employing a Maryland legal doctrine known as “Res Ipsa Loquitur.” This legal principle, which translates roughly as “the thing speaks for itself,” can help make it possible for a plaintiff to bring a personal injury claim without the availability of certain evidence or testimony, but only under certain limited circumstances.
The kind of personal injury case for which Res Ipsa Loquitur is most ideally suited should meet the following criteria:
- The injury in question is not the kind that normally occurs without involving some kind of negligence
- The plaintiff’s injuries were caused exclusively by an instrumentality solely within the control of the defendant(s)
- The claimed injury was not the result of any act or omission by the plaintiff himself
In legal parlance, Res Ipsa Loquitur is an evidentiary rule that Maryland personal injury lawyers can use in some circumstances to bring about a personal injury action in the absence of specific evidence of negligence. Under this doctrine, a plaintiff may be able to meet its prima facie burden of proof of negligence in the absence of hard evidence, which would otherwise show that the actions of the defendant(s) were negligent. This is possible only if the injuries sustained by the plaintiff can be shown not to ordinarily occur in the absence of the defendant's negligence.
The Latin phrase of “Res Ipsa Loquitor” is a legal way of stating that the circumstances surrounding an injury accident are themselves of such character to justify a jury in assuming that the defendant’s negligence was without a doubt the cause of the accident.
It is important to note that the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur allows the inference of negligence (as well as causation) on a defendant’s part from the presentation of the facts that surround the occurrence of the plaintiff’s injuries, WITHOUT the help of expert testimony. Furthermore, the inference can also be arrived at even though the facts presented do not show the “mechanism” or precise manner in which the defendant was negligent. As such, here in Maryland, Res Ipsa Loquitur does not refer to absolute negligence.
In general, the more uncomplicated a personal injury case, the more likely a plaintiff will be able to prevail by applying the Res Ipsa Loquitur doctrine. In Maryland, our court system has typically refused to apply this doctrine in cases where the subject matter is overly complex so that a layperson (that is, a juror) would not reasonably be able to infer negligence based on his or her life experience. Therefore, Res Ipsa Loquitur works better for victims in certain types of motor vehicle accidents or other, mostly simple kinds of products liability cases.
As experts in personal injury law, the skilled legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, can help guide clients through the litigation process to achieve a favorable result. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another person, company or government entity, we urge you to seek advice from a qualified personal injury lawyer. You owe it to yourself and your family to fight for your legal right to compensation under the laws of the State of Maryland. Call our offices today to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation.