Every personal injury case is as unique as the circumstances that led to the claim and the people that are involved – but every case relies on evidence. As the plaintiff, if you want fair compensation for your losses, you have to meet a certain burden of proof.
Many people are familiar with the burden for criminal cases, where prosecutors have to convince a jury that defendants are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil trial, however, plaintiffs only have to establish that they’ve been wronged by the defendant’s behavior “by a preponderance of evidence.”
Is what you’re saying more likely than not to be true?
“By a preponderance of the evidence” basically means that you have to show that your version of the story is at least 51% likely to be the truth. That means showing the court that you were owed a duty of care by the defendant, that the defendant breached that duty of care, and that you suffered injuries and losses as a result of that breach.
The burden of proof only shifts, in part, to the defendant if they are asserting a technical flaw in the case or they have some other sort of affirmative defense.
When the strengths and weaknesses of your case are evaluated, one of the things that your representation will look for is what evidence might be available to prove the defendant’s liabilities. That evidence may include things like:
- Video evidence of the accident obtained from cell phones, store cameras and dash cams
- Eyewitness testimony from those who were present before, during and after the incident
- Communication records, like emails and text messages that support your claims
- Financial records that show your lost income or work opportunities
- Medical records that help tie your condition directly to the accident in question
A lot of people feel overwhelmed by their situation when they’re trying to pursue a personal injury claim. Dealing with insurance companies can be intimidating – but you can get help that will protect your interests. Consult with an accident lawyer to learn how they can help you with a claim.