What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case?

by | Jul 26, 2022 | blog, injury law



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What Is the Burden of Proof in a Civil Case?

In a civil lawsuit, the person suing, called the plaintiff, starts the case by filing a complaint. The complaint states the legal claims the plaintiff is making. Additionally, the complaint will describe the factual background of the dispute. But what is the burden of proof in a civil case?

First, in civil cases, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff. The plaintiff has the burden to show to the fact finder (the judge or jury) the allegations in the complaint are true.

Additionally, the plaintiff must prove the defendant (the party being sued) caused the damages.

To win a civil case, the plaintiff must usually prove her case by a preponderance of evidence. Consequently, this standard means that it is more likely the defendant caused harm or damages the plaintiff is claiming.

To put it into numbers, this means that a judge or jury would have to believe that there was a 51% or higher chance that the plaintiff’s allegations are true.

However, in some civil cases, ones that are more serious than negligence cases may require clear and convincing evidence or evidence that has a higher probability of truth.

What Is the Evidence Standard of Proof in Negligence Cases?

In negligence civil cases, the plaintiff has the burden of showing the defendant breached a duty of care they owed the injured plaintiff. Therefore, it is key to show the defendant committed the act in a way that others in their position would not. Then, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s conduct resulted in an injury.

Conversely, in the American criminal justice system, the legal standard is a prosecutor has to prove a case against a defendantbeyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, in criminal cases the prosecutor must prove each element of the criminal charges with convincing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Therefore, if there is any doubt that the defendant committed the crime, the jury should acquit the defendant.

How Does a Plaintiff Satisfy the Burden of Proof in a Negligence Case?

In a negligence suit, you must prove that the defendant acted with negligence to be awarded damages. In claims involving negligence, you must have sufficient evidence to meet your burden of production and your burden of persuasion.

It does not matter what happened in the accident. Rather, it matters more what you can prove.

Additionally, it is very important how much evidence you have in your favor.

In short, the amount and quality of the evidence you have will determine whether you win or lose your case.

The most common way that civil plaintiffs prove their case is through the testimony of prepared, credible witnesses. Consequently, believable testimony from witnesses can win cases for injured plaintiffs.

Other types of evidence that the plaintiff can use in legal proceedings include:

  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Video camera footage of what happened
  • Police reports that show the position of vehicles after an accident, weather and road conditions, etc.
  • Expert witness testimony from a qualified person

An experienced plaintiff’s negligence attorney will immediately gather evidence to support the injured person’s potential claim

What Does a Defendant Have to Prove In Civil Litigation?

Actually, not much. As we have made clear, when presenting evidence, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. However, as a practical matter, if the defendant has evidence, such as physical evidence or eyewitness testimony, that supports the defense, they will introduce it.

If Someone’s Negligence Injured You, You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

If someone’s negligence caused an injury to you, a close friend or a loved one, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. First, we will investigate the incident in which you were injured. Next, we will determine who caused the accident. Lastly, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We know the standards requiring the successful handling of a personal injury claim in Indiana.

Therefore, contact us at our Hammond office at 219-200-2000 or online at alexmendozalaw.com for a free initial consultation.

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