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What Is the Burden of Proof in a California Personal Injury Case?

Anytime a person sustains an injury caused by the actions of another entity or individual, they should be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, any income they lose, and other expenses. However, personal injury victims need to know what it takes to win an insurance claim or lawsuit, and this revolves around the burden of proof.

Defining Personal Injury Burden of Proof for Civil Lawsuits

Everything you know about the burden of proof probably comes from TV shows or movies, and this likely revolves around criminal cases. However, we need you to throw out anything you think you know about the burden of proof because personal injury claims are not the same. These are civil cases, situations where the burden of proof is not as high as in a criminal case.

Plaintiffs (those who sustain injuries) are the ones responsible for establishing the proper burden of proof for the case. They must prove with a preponderance of evidence that the defendant (the person alleged to have caused the injury) committed the alleged action in question.

The goal here is to establish this preponderance of evidence for the judge or jury. The injured party’s lawyer will attempt to persuade the judge or jury that the defendant’s actions were responsible for the injuries. In addition to proving the defendant’s negligence, it is also necessary to show that the plaintiff suffered some sort of monetary loss, which can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses.

What Does “More Likely Than Not” Mean?

When it comes to personal injury claims, you may hear that the plaintiff is required to show that the defendant “more likely than not” caused the incident. The phrase “more likely than not” is sometimes used as a synonym for a “preponderance of evidence.”

What this boils down to is that the plaintiff and their attorney must show that there is a 51% or greater chance that the actions of the defendant led to the injuries the plaintiff sustained.

Is an Attorney Really Necessary When Proving Negligence?

Any person who sustains an injury caused by the negligent actions of another individual must have an attorney by their side. The reality is that there are various tactics that at-fault parties and their legal teams can use to defend themselves against allegations of fault.

First and foremost, the defendant and their legal team will work to show that the defendant did not likely cause the injury. If they can so any doubt in the minds of the judge or jury, at least to get below that 51% threshold, the plaintiff could lose the case. Additionally, a defendant may try to say that the plaintiff was partially responsible for causing their own injuries, which could lower the amount of compensation they have to pay.

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by another individual or entity, let an attorney take over every aspect of the case very quickly after the incident occurs. A personal injury attorney in San Bernardino and across Southern California will conduct an independent investigation into the incident, gather the evidence to prove liability, and represent you in court.