Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

By Oscar McAlister posted 19 days ago


After an accident that left you with injuries, you might have a claim against the person or company responsible or their insurance carrier. You could recover money spent on medical bills and any lost wages caused by an accident. 

When filing a personal injury claim, you are going to learn a lot of legal terminology. Among the terms you need to understand is a concept known as the burden of proof. Here is an explanation of this legal principle and its importance:

What is the burden of proof?

The burden of proof is how much evidence is needed to win a court case. When watching courtroom dramas, you have probably seen an attorney lose a case because a judge and jury did not think they presented enough evidence to win a case. They failed to meet the burden of proof. 

In civil cases, a plaintiff’s lawyer must prove their case by a preponderance of probabilities. That means that there is a greater than 50% chance that the plaintiff’s version of events is accurate and should receive compensation. A personal injury attorney in Kansas City says that while a plaintiff only must convince a court on a balance of probabilities, nothing should be left to chance. 

Satisfying the burden of proof

To ensure that their client wins a personal injury claim, attorneys should present evidence that proves each aspect of their case. This means demonstrating that the defendant had a responsibility to prevent an accident, that they acted without due care, and that their actions caused your injury.

Think of a motor vehicle accident claim as an example. Each driver has a duty of care toward other road users, which requires them to drive responsibly and obey traffic rules. However, sometimes drivers do not fulfill this obligation. 

Instead, they speed, drive drunk, run red lights, and text while driving. If the at-fault driver did something in conflict with this duty of care and caused you to get injured, you have a case. When personal injury attorneys can prove each element factual, they meet the burden of proof successfully.

Types of proof required

Personal injury claims based on a plaintiff’s word against a defendant seldom reach a favorable conclusion. Having concrete evidence to prove each element of the case gives a plaintiff a far greater chance of success. A plaintiff’s attorney will gather as much proof as possible to present to a court. 

As the law speaks about a burden of proof, the more you have, the better. Two independent eyewitnesses are better than one, and so are photographs taken from multiple angles.

Collecting proof

If you are involved in an accident, start documenting everything straightaway. This includes taking photographs and videos of the scene, getting the at-fault party’s details, and finding witnesses, and saving their contact information. Report to an ER or visit your doctor right after an accident for a full medical evaluation of your injuries. 

A plaintiff can receive payment for wages they lost after time off from work to recover from their injuries. Keep records and ask your employer for documentary evidence of how many hours you missed and your pay rate. 

Why plaintiffs need an attorney

While you are free to represent yourself in court, few people see much success after opting for this route. Personal injury lawyers are experts in their field with years of experience. They understand the system and what it takes to win your case.

Many people are reluctant to hire an attorney because of the fees. However, some personal injury lawyers do not charge anything during the case, preferring to receive a percentage of the damages payout.

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