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res ipsa loquitur

(rayz ip-sah loh-quit-her) n. Latin for "the thing speaks for itself," a doctrine of law that one is presumed to be negligent if he/she/it had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and without negligence the accident would not have happened. Examples: a) a load of bricks on the roof of a building being constructed by Highrise Construction Co. falls and injures Paul Pedestrian below, and Highrise is liable for Pedestrian's injury even though no one saw the load fall. b) While under anesthetic, Isabel Patient's nerve in her arm is damaged although it was not part of the surgical procedure, and she is unaware of which of a dozen medical people in the room caused the damage. Under res ipsa loquitur all those connected with the operation are liable for negligence. Lawyers often shorten the doctrine to "res ips," and find it a handy shorthand for a complex doctrine.

See also: negligence 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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