Res Ipsa Loquitur Definition

(ray-sip-sah loh-quit-er) Latin for "the thing speaks for itself"; a legal presumption that a defendant acted negligently even though there may be no direct evidence of liability. For example, a construction company is presumed to be negligent if a load of bricks under its control falls off a roof and injures a pedestrian, even though nobody witnessed the accident. The presumption arises only if 1) the thing that caused the accident was under the defendant's control, 2) the accident could happen only as a result of a careless act, and 3) the injured plaintiff's behavior did not contribute to the accident. Lawyers also refer to this doctrine as "res ips" or "res ipsa."