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The Burden of Proof in Accident Injury Cases

If you or your loved one have suffered a serious injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Those injured in accidents can recover compensation through filing a personal injury lawsuit. You will need to meet the burden of proof in order to win your personal injury case. To meet the burden of proof, you will need to present enough evidence to prove the legal requirements of a personal injury lawsuit.

What is the Burden of Proof in Accident Injury Cases?

In every legal proceeding, the court will require the person to bring the legal action to meet the burden of proof. There are several different types of burdens of proof. The burden of proof that a court uses depends on the type of case involved. In a criminal preceding, the prosecutor who brings charges against the defendant must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Plaintiffs Must Prove Their Case by a Preponderance of Evidence

In civil cases, including in personal injury lawsuits, you as the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant caused your injuries. In other words, you will need to prove that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant’s negligence or recklessness caused your injuries. 

Some lawyers refer to the burden of proof as tipping the “scales of justice” by making their side a little bit heavier than the other. In mathematical terms, proving a case by a preponderance of the evidence means getting the evidence to the point that you have proved the elements of your case by just over 50%. 

Understanding the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Lawsuits

When you file a personal injury lawsuit after suffering a serious injury due to an accident, you will file in a civil court. Civil cases are different from criminal cases. In criminal cases, the prosecution brings criminal charges against a defendant. In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff is an injured party who is seeking compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s actions or inaction that may or may not have been criminal in nature. 

Most people are more familiar with criminal cases than civil cases. They may have seen a criminal case on television in which the prosecution must prove charges “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In other words, the prosecution in criminal cases need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher than in civil cases. 

Courts impose a more difficult standard because when a defendant is convicted, he or she faces serious fines and a loss of freedom through jail time. In civil lawsuits, the defendant’s personal freedom is not at stake. It is much easier to prove that someone’s negligence caused your personal injury in a civil lawsuit than to prove that someone committed a crime. 

Factors Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Every personal injury case is unique. If you have filed a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove the following elements:

  • You, your spouse, or your child became injured in an accident, or you had prior health conditions or pain that became worse after the accident
  • You were no more than 50% at fault for the accident that caused your injuries

Under the legal doctrine of modified comparative negligence, people can recover damages for injuries, even if they were partially at fault for the accident. As long as you can prove that you were 49% or less at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages. 

Accident Reports May Not Accurately Determine Who is at Fault

In many police reports, officers will make a determination of who was at fault. They will issue a citation to the person or people who contributed to the car accident. Police reports do not always provide the most accurate determinations of fault, however. A variety of factors contribute to the cause and severity of the accident, including the following:

  • Speeding is one of the most common causes of serious car accidents
  • Distracted driving, including texting, holding a food, watching a video, or eating food
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to yield to traffic lights, signs, intersections, and lane changes
  • Following a car in front too closely, causing a rear-end collision
  • T-Bone collisions in which someone crashes the frontend of the vehicle into the side of another vehicle in a “T” fashion
  • Accidents involving large vehicles, such as buses, tractor-trailers, and large commercial vehicles often cause more damage due to their large size
  • Accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists can result in serious injury or death
  • Bad weather conditions, including ice, fog, sleet, and snow
  • Poor lighting conditions making it difficult to drive safely
  • Deer and animals jutting out in front of cars, causing car accidents
  • Construction zones can be dangerous due to a lack of traffic signs or negligence
  • Young drivers and elderly drivers
  • Health conditions that make it dangerous to drive

Proving that You Were No More Than 50% At Fault for the Accident

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, you could benefit from filing a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, defense lawyers as well as insurance companies almost always try to prove that the victim in a car accident contributed to the accident. In a head-on collision, the at-fault party may try to prove that the driver of the vehicle sitting in the intersection was distracted and failed to pay attention to the traffic lights. Or, if a driver makes a dangerous lane change, causing a collision, his attorneys may argue that the injured driver was speeding. 

Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers Today

At Smith Hulsey Law, we have a proven track record of securing large verdicts and settlements for our clients. We know how to present enough evidence to meet the burden of proof and win the case. Contact our skilled lawyers today to schedule your free, initial consultation.

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