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Does victim compensation always require proving negligence?

Obtaining compensation from a negligent property owner for injuries you received usually entails producing evidence to prove the existence of icy sidewalks, a wet floor or other dangerous property condition. There are situations in which an injured party may use circumstantial evidence to create an inference that a property owner was negligent without introducing evidence directly proving it.Res ipsa loquitur is a legal doctrine recognized by courts in Massachusetts. It means “the thing speaks for itself,” and it has become a way for injured plaintiffs to prove negligence under circumstances in which only the party being sued would know what negligence caused the accident. For example, a person injured by a piano falling from a building might not be able to determine what caused the object to fall, but pianos do not fall from buildings under normal circumstances. Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, a judge or jurors may infer that the negligent property owner was responsible for the falling piano.The doctrine requires an accident victim to prove the following in order to create the inference:The incident in question is not one that happens without there being a negligent actThe plaintiff proves that no other explanation other than negligence existsThe evidence excludes other parties as being responsibleThe defendant owed a duty to plaintiff that was breachedOnce the inference has been created by circumstantial evidence, it becomes the defendant’s burden to prove that the accident could have happened without negligence on the part of the property owner. A defendant might also try to prove that no duty was owed to the plaintiff. This might occur in situations in which the plaintiff enters the property owner’s land without permission.Negligence is a complex area of the law that cannot be adequately covered in a single post. This post is not offered, or intended to be relied upon, as legal advice. A person who suffers serious injuries due to a negligent property owner may wish to consult with a Barnstable County personal injury attorney for legal advice.