To understand what burden of proof is and why it is important in a civil case, you need to understand what happens after someone suffers a personal injury. The victim will generally file a claim against the at-fault party seeking to recover money for the expenses and losses they incurred.
When this happens, the victim is the claimant. They have a duty to provide evidence showing that the allegation they made against the other party has validity. This duty, coupled with how convincing the evidence must be, is the burden of proof. It is essential because without meeting this burden, they cannot recover compensation.
What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case?
Imagine you were hurt in a traffic accident. You file an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the other driver. The burden of proof to show they acted negligently and are liable for your injuries and financial losses falls on you.
In general, most civil cases have a burden of proof known as “preponderance of the evidence.” According to the Legal Information Institute (LII), the claimant needs only to show that the likelihood the other party acted negligently and caused their injuries is more than 50 percent.
It is crucial to know that the accused has no obligation to provide any evidence or prove their innocence. The burden of proof lies entirely with the person making a claim against them.
The Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case is Different Than in Criminal Court
The burden of proof in a civil claim is not as stringent as in a criminal case. A civil court requires the claimant to present evidence to prove a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the injuries.
In a criminal case, the prosecution’s burden of proof requires it to present evidence that proves the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Because of this difference in the burden of proof, it may be possible to win a civil case based on the same evidence that failed to secure a conviction in criminal court. A famous example is what happened in the infamous case against OJ Simpson in the 1990s. He was acquitted of murder in criminal court but lost the wrongful death lawsuits filed against him by the victims’ families in civil court.
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What Evidence do I Need to Prove My Lawsuit?
The evidence necessary to satisfy the burden of proof in your personal injury case will depend on the facts of what happened and what types of evidence are available. One thing is for sure: you will need proof beyond your opinion of what happened and your testimony. This just creates a “he said, she said” situation and rarely secures compensation.
Gathering evidence to win a car accident, premises liability, defective product, or another personal injury case usually requires an investigation into what happened and each participant’s role. In court, you’ll often present:
- A report filed by law enforcement or first responders
- Eyewitness statements
- Video or pictures from the incident
- A survey of the scene
- Accident reconstruction for traffic collisions
- Expert testimony
- Physical evidence
- Relevant medical records
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me Meet the Burden of Proof in My Case?
If you opt to hire a personal injury law firm to help with your compensation claim or civil lawsuit, your attorney will have a good understanding of the necessary burden of proof and how to meet it. They will have handled similar cases and know the type of evidence available. They will identify and analyze what is necessary to recover compensation and develop a strong case on your behalf.
If they cannot reach a just settlement with the insurance company representing the negligent party, they will sue them and threaten to take the case to trial. Each state sets its timeline for beginning this process:
- Up to one year in Louisiana per Civ. Code Art. 3492
- Up to two years in Alabama under Code § 6-2-38
- Up to three years in Arkansas ( Code Ann. § 16-56-105) and Mississippi (Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49)
Exceptions to these statutes could mean even less time to act, so it is essential to consider your options early.
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Morris Bart, LLC Helps Our Clients Meet the Burden of Proof in Their Case
At the Morris Bart law firm, we know what it takes to meet the burden of proof in a civil case and hold the at-fault party responsible. Our case results prove that our contingency-fee firm can help personal injury victims build a claim and recover the damages they deserve based on the details of their case. We serve clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call (800) 537-8185 today for a free review of your case with our team.
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