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Burden of Proof

Burden of ProofIf you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may have a claim to receive compensation for your injuries.

But how do you prove that the other person was at fault? The answer lies in meeting the burden of proof.

In a personal injury case, this means demonstrating that someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing caused your injury.

What Does Burden of Proof Mean?

The burden of proof refers to an injured person’s responsibility to present evidence supporting their claim that the at-fault party is liable for their injuries and damages.

What Is the Preponderance of the Evidence?

The preponderance of the evidence is a legal term used to describe the amount of evidence needed to prove your personal injury claim. It is the primary burden of proof standard in this context, and it means providing enough evidence to demonstrate your contentions are at least 51% likely to be true.

Each element of your claim must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Most personal injury claims have four elements – duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty

A duty is a responsibility that one party has toward another. This means that an individual or entity is legally obligated to act in a manner that will not cause harm or damage to others. Common examples include safely operating a motor vehicle or providing adequate healthcare services.

Breach of Duty

Once a duty has been established, there must be evidence that it was breached. For example, a driver who ran a red light or was driving under the influence would have clearly violated the duty to keep others on the road safe.

Causation

Causation means establishing that the defendant’s breach led to the accident and injuries, both factually and proximately. For example, a drunk driver who ran a red light crashed into another car. Here, each type of causation is likely satisfied.

Damages

To succeed in a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must show that they suffered damages, which refers to injuries and financial losses. These most often include medical expenses, lost wages due to time missed from work, and pain and suffering associated with their injuries.

Each of these four elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant was negligent and caused an accident but cannot show that they suffered any injuries, they will not be successful.

Evidence Used To Meet the Burden of Proof

Various types of evidence can be used to satisfy the burden of proof in your personal injury case. The following is a description of some of the most prominent.

Medical Records & Testimony

As part of proving that your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, medical records are essential. They are critical in personal injury claims as they can provide evidence of the nature and extent of the injuries sustained, the cause of the injuries, and how they have impacted the victim’s life.

Witness Testimony

Witness testimony is another common form of evidence used in personal injury cases. Witnesses can provide valuable insight into how an accident occurred, who was responsible for it, and what damages were sustained by each party involved. Witness testimony can be presented in court and during settlement negotiations.

Expert Testimony

Expert testimony can establish liability or causation in personal injury cases. An expert witness can provide an opinion on whether or not the defendant acted negligently and if that negligence led directly to the plaintiff’s injuries.

Expert witnesses may include doctors, engineers, accident reconstruction experts, safety experts, and other professionals who have expertise in a relevant field.

Photos & Videos

In many personal injury claims, photos and videos can help prove the elements of the claim. They provide visual evidence, which can supplement other forms of evidence, such as witness testimony or medical records. Pictures taken right after an accident can show the aftermath.

Additionally, video footage may also be utilized if available. For example, there’s often video footage from homeowners’ doorbell cameras or surveillance footage from nearby restaurants or stores. This can provide crucial evidence if there is a dispute over liability or causation.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

When trying to obtain punitive damages after an injury caused by another person’s negligence, there is a different burden of proof standard: clear and convincing evidence. This requires evidence that leaves the factfinder with a firm belief or conviction that the facts presented are true.

Any evidence presented must be reliable, accurate, and persuasive enough to convince the judge and/or jury that the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious and should lead to an award of punitive damages.

This is a higher burden of proof than a preponderance of the evidence.

Contact an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Lawyer for Legal Help

The burden of proof can play a key role in the outcome of your personal injury case. Fortunately, the primary standard that applies is one of the easier to satisfy. Nonetheless, you may require the legal services of an Austin personal injury lawyer to present the strongest version of your claim.

If you have any questions or need help with a personal injury claim, we’re here for you. Call FVF Law today at (512) 982-9328 to schedule a free consultation.

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