Burden of Proof

What is a Burden of Proof?

The term “burden of proof” refers to who bears the burden of proving the elements of a claim in order to win their case. In the majority of cases, the plaintiff (for example, a car accident victim) must prove these elements in order to win their case.

So, if you were involved in an auto accident, you bear the burden of proof. This means that you must be able to demonstrate why you are entitled to financial compensation following your accident. The burden of proof also specifies how much evidence is required to win a case or how “definite” the evidence must be.

While the term “burden of proof” is most commonly heard in criminal cases, it can apply to any type of case, including traditional car crashes, slip and fall incidents, and other types of injury cases.

Are There Different Levels When it Comes to Burden of Proof?

Yes! In criminal cases, the highest level of proof is required, but there are different levels in civil cases as well.

The different levels of proof consist of the following: 

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”

When it comes to criminal cases, the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard is applied. This standard is used because of the severe implications of convicting an innocent person. You want to be almost certain that the person charged committed the crime at hand. In civil cases, this high standard is never applied.

“Preponderance of the Evidence”

This standard is typically applied in the majority of civil cases. This level only requires that you demonstrate that the plaintiff met all of the required elements of the case. This standard means that the jury is 51% certain that the plaintiff demonstrated all of the case’s facts.

“Clear and Convincing Evidence”

In some cases, a higher standard of proof will be required. This higher standard is somewhere in the middle of the other two. It is not clear exactly where this standard of proof falls. 

Whatever standard is used, the ultimate burden is always on the plaintiff. However, in some cases, the burden may be shared by both parties. For example, if the defendant asserts certain types of defenses, the defendant bears the burden of proof on those defenses. Even where there is a shift, the plaintiff still bears the greater burden.

In a Personal Injury Case, What Must the Plaintiff Prove?

Every personal injury case contains a number of “elements” or parts. You must use the burden of proof that applies to your situation to prove your portion. This is known as a preponderance of evidence. You must demonstrate the following:

  • The other individual or entity who was involved must have owed you some type of responsibility. In a car accident, for example, every driver owes it to others to drive in a way that does not endanger the safety of others.
  • To have a valid legal claim, the at-fault party must have breached their duty to you. Assume you were hit in an intersection because the other driver ran a red light. The other driver had a duty to obey traffic signals, which they violated by running through the red light. Some of the most common reasons for a driver failing to drive safely are violations of the law or rules of the road.
  • You must have suffered some loss as a result of the other person’s breach of duty. You cannot have a case unless there is a link between the losses you suffered and the breach of duty. It is not enough to have damage; you must also demonstrate that the at-fault person directly or indirectly caused your injuries or damage.
  • You must also have suffered some form of loss in order to file a legal claim. This could include physical or mental injuries, as well as economic losses such as lost wages or a damaged vehicle.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Because it is the plaintiff’s burden to demonstrate all of the elements of their claim, you will need the assistance of an experienced lawyer to help you present the appropriate evidence and information to the judge or jury. In a personal injury case, your word is frequently insufficient to meet your burden of proof. You require hard evidence. 

The best way to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and suffering is to hire a personal injury lawyer for expert legal help.

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