Many people who watch crime shows know that a prosecutor must prove charges “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Unfortunately, these same people may feel intimidated because they expect the same proof burden when pursuing personal injury damages.
Fortunately, civil cases depend on “preponderance of the evidence”—not “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Read on to learn about the burden of proof and the meaning of “preponderance of the evidence.”
The burden of proof
The burden of proof refers to a party’s responsibility to set forth evidence and prove their claim. In civil cases, this responsibility is on the plaintiff, or the party bringing the action.
There are two elements in the burden of proof. The first is production, which describes moving forward and presenting evidence. Evidence may include witness testimony, documents, or objects. In personal claims, this evidence usually includes medical records, copies of statements, pictures of vehicle damage, and testimony from accident or injury witnesses.
The second element is the defendant’s response. After you present your case, the defendant must provide evidence rebutting your claims or supporting their own arguments. For example, if the defendant claims your injuries were not that severe, they may present other medical opinions or opposing witness testimony to support that premise and dispute your arguments.
As the burden of proof process proceeds, it is subject to evidentiary standards. These standards help determine the “winning” argument.
The burden of persuasion: preponderance of the evidence
The burden of persuasion refers to how effectively the plaintiff uses the evidence. Courts measure that element by evidentiary standards. In civil cases, that is usually “preponderance of the evidence.”
The preponderance of the evidence standard generally states that if the plaintiff shows that a particular fact or event was more likely than not to have occurred, the jury should return a verdict in their favor. For example, if a jury analyzes the evidence and finds a 51 percent chance that a car accident caused your shoulder injury, they should award a verdict granting you damages.
You do not need a perfect case. A 51 percent standard is much easier to meet than the nearly 100 percent standard advanced in criminal law. You can still win a civil case even if the jury has some doubts. The trick usually involves focusing on the most substantial parts of your case and dismissing or settling the weaker ones.
Contact an Ohio personal injury lawyer today
Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness? If they’re at fault, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.483.2298 for a consultation, and we’ll discuss how I can help you recover compensation—let me handle the burden of proof, so you can focus on recovering.