If you have been hurt in an accident, you will probably face increasing medical bills and other expenses. To recover compensation for your injuries and losses, you will need to prove your case — to a jury or an insurance company.
Different levels of proof are required for different types of cases. Certain facts and circumstances might be enough to satisfy the burden of proof in a civil case but may not be enough for a conviction in a criminal case.
If you have questions about the burden of proof in your case, speak to an experienced attorney in Lexington who can help.
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What is a Burden of Proof?
The burden of proof is a minimum threshold that you have to meet to win your case. You prove your case using evidence, such as witness testimony, expert testimony, exhibits, and other documentation.
The burden of proof can be portrayed as a scale from 0-100. In this example, 0 means nothing has been proven at all, and 100 means that everything has been completely proven without any possible doubt.
The “score” that a plaintiff gets in this example is how much they have proven their case. No case requires a 100 score to be successful.
The Different Burdens of Proof
The burden of proof varies depending on the type of claim or case. However, there are three common burdens of proof in the law that are important to understand:
- Preponderance of evidence. This burden of proof is used in civil lawsuits. You must demonstrate that your version of events is more likely not (as opposed to the defendant’s). On a scale of one to 100, you prove your case by 51% or more. If you file a lawsuit for a personal injury, then the burden of proof in your case is a preponderance of the evidence.
- Clear and convincing evidence. This burden of proof is most common in administrative cases and in other specific types of cases. This level of proof is higher than the requirement for the preponderance standard discussed above but lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. It is also used to prove you are entitled to punitive damages.
- Proof beyond a reasonable doubt: This burden of proof is used in criminal cases; it is the highest burden of proof in the law.
If you have questions about the burden of proof in your case, you should speak to an experienced attorney for legal advice.
The Burden of Proof as a Plaintiff
Say you suffered an injury and sued the at-fault party for your losses. You are known as the “plaintiff.” The alleged at-fault party is known as the “defendant.” The jury will determine whether you proved your case by a preponderance of the evidence. Alternatively, a judge may decide the case in certain situations.
If you are the plaintiff, you have the burden to prove that your version of events is true. You can prove your case through the presentation of different forms of evidence. You might call witnesses that corroborate your version of events. You might hire an expert who can testify how your accident occurred or how extensive your financial losses are. Your attorney might present evidence to the jury, such as video proof, documentation, or other evidence
You will be successful if you are able to convince the jury that your version of events is more likely true than the defendant’s.
The Burden of Proof as a Defendant
A defendant does not typically have a burden of proof and therefore does not have to prove anything. They can technically refuse to put on a case and still win if the plaintiff fails to meet their burden. A defendant has the ability to question and examine all of the evidence presented against them in court but is not required to.
A defendant can also present their own witnesses and evidence to help refute the plaintiff’s claims. The main goal of most defendants is to show that the plaintiff’s evidence is insufficient to meet the burden of proof.
A defendant will have a burden of proof if they file a counterclaim or affirmative defense to their conduct. The defendant will have to prove their counterclaim or affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
If you have questions about how the burden of proof will apply to your case, then give us a call so we can help!
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If you were hurt in an accident, you may not know which burden of proof applies to your case. Call us or contact us online for a free consultation so you can have your questions answered by a seasoned Lexington personal injury lawyer.