Preponderance of Evidence

What is a Preponderance of Evidence?

The preponderance of evidence refers to the greater weight of evidence on the issues at hand. While insufficient to eliminate all reasonable doubt, it is sufficient to sway a reasonable and impartial mind in favor of one side over the other.

In the majority of civil proceedings, the preponderance of the evidence is an evidentiary standard. It is significantly less stringent than the criminal threshold of proving your case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Georgia code defines the meaning of this term, and it is typically stated to the jury throughout the trial process. Commonly known as the “greater weight of the evidence,” some attorneys refer to it as convincing the jury “beyond fifty percent.”

What is a "Burden of Proof"?

The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff (victim) in a civil lawsuit. The plaintiff must demonstrate by a majority of the evidence that the alleged events occurred and that the defendant was responsible for the damages.

Unfortunately, the victim must bear this responsibility, but that’s how the law works in Georgia and the rest of the United States. You must demonstrate that you were hurt and need monetary damages to compensate for your losses.

A competent Georgia personal injury attorney will be able to demonstrate that you were the victim of your accident and that the other party was at fault. Experienced personal injury attorneys will work to obtain the greatest possible compensation.

How Does a Jury Use the "Preponderance of the Evidence" Standard?

The standard is based on the persuasiveness of the available evidence. It has no bearing on how much evidence is offered. In other words, the jury will evaluate the credibility of the witnesses and determine which evidence appears more credible based on the circumstances. If one side provides more evidence than the other, it does not necessarily mean they will prevail based on the “preponderance of the evidence.”

Most people consider “proof” tangible, although its definition is considerably broader than that. For example, in a car accident case, evidence may include things like:

  • Witness testimony
  • Information from the car repair shop
  • Prior medical records (for the defense to prove a pre-existing condition)
  • Your testimony
  • Medical records
  • Testimony from doctors or other medical professionals
  • Pictures of the damage to the vehicle
  • Statements from your spouse, children, or friends about how the crash has affected you
  • Statements from the other driver
  • Testimony from a police officer describing the accident and what is contained in the police report
  • Photos of the scene of the accident

The jury will take this evidence into account, deciding if the evidence you present is more trustworthy and true than the evidence presented by the defense. The jury is an integral part of this process.

Car accident lawyers will try to find proof that their client was hurt by a driver who wasn’t paying attention. The same is true for premise liability injuries, medical negligence, and any other kind of personal injury claim.

What Are Other Standards of Evidence?

Different kinds of cases have different standards for evidence. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases is probably the most well-known. Because criminal cases are so important, the evidence is scrutinized much more than in criminal cases.

Some other less common standards of evidence are still used in some civil cases. Among them are:

  • Clear and Convincing Evidence: This is a higher standard than “the preponderance of the evidence.” It means there is a higher chance that a particular fact is true than false. It is sometimes called a “high probability” that something is true. This standard is prevalent in family law-related cases in accordance with the Official Code of Georgia (OCGA) § 15-11-440.
  • Substantial Evidence: This standard is lower. It means that a party has provided enough evidence to allow a reasonable person to conclude that something is true. It is not convincing or based on the weight of the evidence. It is “adequate.” This standard is often used in administrative proceedings.

Criminal law also uses other standards to describe parts of the investigation process. For instance, the “reasonable belief and suspicion” test, which isn’t strictly an evidentiary standard but still plays a significant role in a criminal prosecution, will be used to determine whether an officer acted lawfully. Most of the time, that kind of rule won’t come up in a civil case. But if your claim is about a crime, like an accident caused by a drunk driver, it could be referenced.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at The Brown Firm

If you have been injured, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Brown Firm offer free consultations to accident victims in Georgia and South Carolina. Call 800-529-1441 to speak with our personal injury team today!

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