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Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case

Posted on in Personal Injury

Rockford personal injury attorneysThanks to television procedural dramas and other dramatic depictions, you are probably familiar with the common legal phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.” While the concept predates American law, it has become a cornerstone principle in criminal courtrooms around the country, providing a basis for protecting the rights of the accused. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of entertainment, it is easy to assume that the same standard applies in any type of court proceeding. Reasonable doubt, however, does not play a specific role in civil court or personal injury claims, as the standard used in such cases is much different and much easier to attain. In civil court, a claimant must only show that his or her version of the event in question is more likely than not based on the “preponderance of the evidence.”

Burden of Proof Is on the Claimant

As you might expect, the party that files a car accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claim has the burden of proof. This means that, in order to collect compensation as requested in claim, he or she must present a case that shows several distinct elements. The claimant must demonstrate and support with evidence that:

  • The defendant owed him or her a duty of care;
  • The defendant breached that duty by negligence or willful act;
  • The claimant suffered actual injuries or losses; and
  • The defendant’s breach was the cause of the claimant’s injuries or losses.

In most cases, the defendant’s duty of care is based on the standard of reasonable care, meaning that he or she must take the same steps that a reasonable person would take to prevent foreseeable injuries.

Preponderance of the Evidence

Unlike a criminal case which requires each element of the crime in question to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil case is much different. It is also much more attainable. The injured party must provide enough proof to show that the defendant’s legal liability is more likely than not. Of course, the determination requires the jury—or judge in a bench trial—to carefully consider all presented evidence and testimony. Hence, a claimant may be awarded compensation based on a preponderance of the evidence.

Contact a Skilled Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured due to the actions or negligence of another party, it is important to understand the law and how it may apply to your case. Contact an experienced Rockford personal injury attorney today. We will help you explore your available options and assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve. Call 815-215-7561 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Sources:

http://dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1586

http://www.fedbar.org/For-the-Media/Legal-Definitions.aspx

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