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Burden of Proof in Civil Cases: Understanding Personal Injury Lawsuits

Despite what we see on tv, only 4%-5% of personal injury cases in America ever make it to trial. The rest are settled out of court.

However, in order to reach a settlement, the plaintiff must understand that the burden of proof in civil cases rests entirely on them. If you’ve been injured and someone else is at fault, you’ll need to provide a standard of proof in personal injury lawsuits in order to receive any money.

If you’re wondering about the burden of proof in personal injury and how to build a strong defense, keep reading. We’re going to share with you everything you need to know to get the compensation you deserve.

What the Burden of Proof in Civil Cases Means

The burden of proof in personal injury lawsuits falls to the injured party. It’s their responsibility to convince an insurance adjuster, judge or jury that the person or business being sued is solely responsible for causing the injuries.

The standard of proof in personal injury lawsuits refers to how convincing the argument must be to convince the judge, jury or insurance adjuster into believing it’s true.

Standard Burden of Proof Must Be Higher than 50%

While criminal cases must prove the case is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in a civil personal injury claim, the burden of proof is thankfully much lower. The burden of proof in tort law is to make a convincing argument that the civil injury claim is “more likely than not” true.

What that means is that the evidence being presented by the injured party is true by at least 51%. Meanwhile, the defendant does not have to prove that his or her version of events is true at all.

Nor do they have to convince a judge or jury that there is an alternative version of events.

Affirmative Defense

The only exception to this rule is when a defendant tries to prove an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is when the defendant provides and proves additional facts that can defeat the plaintiff’s claim.

And they only need to provide enough proof that the defendant’s claim is most likely true than not.

How to Gather Evidence to Prove Your Case

The most important element in learning how to build a strong defense is to gather the proper evidence to support your claim. It’s always helpful to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you determine which information and evidence will help you win.

As in the case of truck accident law, the more information you have with an attorney who handles those types of cases, the more prepared you are to present sound evidence to the judge or jury.

When to Start Gathering Evidence

As soon as you’re injured, you should begin gathering evidence. If you can, have photographs and video taken at the scene. Pictures don’t lie and they are a great way to sway a judge or jury quickly.

You should also gather the names, addresses, and contact numbers of any witnesses to your injury. You’ll want to follow up with them to get their statements as soon as you’re able.

Get Copies From the Police and Doctors

Next, order a copy of the police report. You should also request copies of all medical records and bills pertaining to your injury.

Later on, you can order a copy of the police report and request copies of all your medical records and bills.

The Discovery Process

While the evidence mentioned above is often enough standard of proof in personal injury lawsuits for a small claims court, you’ll be required to participate in the discovery process for any lawsuits filed in a higher court.

While you can file and pursue a case in small claims court on your own, you should definitely hire a personal injury attorney to help you with the discovery process.

Information Your Lawyer Will Collect for Your Case

The lawyer will use requests for admission, subpoenas, and interrogatories to gather information which will be used as evidence such as:

  • Driving and arrest records
  • Asset checks
  • Insurance policy limits
  • Proof of other sources of insurance money
  • Phone records from the defendant
  • Surveillance films from businesses

Your attorney will then find a way to present this information to a jury in a way that’s easy to understand.

What You Must Prove in a Prima Facie Injury Case

Prima facie is Latin for “on its face” meaning you just have to prove that you have good reason to claim the defendant is at fault for your injuries. However, you’ll be required to prove that the defendant:

  • Was directly responsible for causing your injuries through their negligent act
  • Deliberately did something wrong or failed to act in a way that any reasonable person would do
  • Had a duty of care to prevent harm to other individuals
  • Was in breach of their duty of care

But it’s not enough to prove that the defendant was at fault.

Providing Proof of Real and Measurable Damages

You must also prove that you suffered damages that are both real and measurable such as:

  • A loss of wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Have out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Medical bills

It will be the weight of your evidence that convinces a judge or jury to rule in your favor.

Why You Need an Attorney

If your case is worth enough that you need to pursue it in a higher court, you’ll need a personal injury lawyer to receive the best outcome. Not only are trial lawyers well-versed in this particular area of the law, but it will take hours for them to prepare for your trial.

A good personal injury attorney knows where to find the strengths and weaknesses of your case. And they can also understand and utilize the evidence the defense is planning to offer through discovery.

If there is any evidence that the defense puts forth that may eliminate or refute your claim, the attorney can work to strengthen any favorable evidence. And they also know how to convince a jury and judge to rule in your favor.

Find a Good Lawyer Today

Now that you understand how and why the burden of proof in civil cases lies with the injured party, it’s time to find a good lawyer.

Not only can they help you get the money you deserve, but they will also make sure it happens before the statute of limitations runs out. Search our directory to find a qualified personal injury attorney near you.

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