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The Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case

You have probably heard of the burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. As you likely know, this is the burden of proof that must be met by a state or the federal government in order to convict someone of a crime. This standard applies only to criminal cases. It does not apply to any issues in civil cases. Suppose someone is tried for a crime which injures someone else. If the defendant is not convicted in the criminal trial, the injured victim can still sue the defendant for his or her injuries in a civil case. This is because the level of proof required for a criminal conviction is higher than for a civil case. In other words, the level of proof might not be high enough to reach the level of beyond a reasonable doubt, but that does not mean that it is not high enough to reach the level of a preponderance of the evidence. So, where a criminal case fails, a civil case might nevertheless succeed. In this blog post, we will discuss the burden of proof in personal injury cases in Florida.

What is the Burden of Proof?

In order to win your case, you must prove that the facts support your case. Also, it is the plaintiff’s duty to prove his or her case, not the obligation of the defendant to disprove the plaintiff’s case. However, just how much proof do you have to have or put another way, how convincing do you have to do, in order to win? If a jury says that maybe they believe the plaintiff, is that enough to  win? Do they have to be absolutely and totally convinced by the plaintiff in order to rule in his or her favor? This question is really asking what the plaintiff’s burden of proof in order isto win. The burden of proof is the level of proof that the plaintiff must provide to the jury in order to win. U.S. law typically recognizes five levels or burdens of proof, which apply in various aspects of personal injury cases. These include, in increasing order from weakest to strongest: prima facie case; preponderance of the evidence; reasonable certainty; clear and convincing; and beyond a reasonable doubt. A prima facie case begins with an explanation of prima facie evidence, which refers to presenting any evidence at all which is enough to suggest any possibility that something is true. Basically, any evidence at all in favor of a position will provide prima facie evidence. In personal injury cases, this standard of proof is most commonly used regarding motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment. If a defendant makes a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must show that he or she has a prima facie case—this means that there is prima facie evidence of each element of the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff. If a plain- tiff alleges any evidence to meet all required elements, a motion to dismiss should not be granted. On other words, the plaintiff’s attorney must present a prima facie case at trial. After the plaintiff’s attorney has presented all his or her evidence—but before the defendant’s attorney begins his or her case—the defendant’s attorney will make a motion for a directed verdict. This asks the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff has presented all of his or her evidence and that there is not enough to cover all required elements or that the evidence was not strong enough that a reasonable jury could find in the plaintiff’s favor. If there is enough evidence (and very little is required) that a reasonable jury could possibly find in favor of the plaintiff on each required element, summary judgment should not be granted. Preponderance of the evidence is the basic, default burden of proof in personal injury cases as well as most other civil (non-criminal) cases. The plaintiff must prove all elements and aspects of his or her case (except those which specify a higher standard, explained below) by a preponderance of the evidence. For each of the elements of your causes of action, you will have to convince the jury by at least a preponderance of the evidence that they should believe your position.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today!

Every day, thousands of Americans experience personal injuries. Whether from a car accident, a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, a defective product or one of many other causes, people often do not know under what circumstances someone else may be at fault for their injuries. In addition, the legal system is complex and often frightening to a person with no legal training. As far as the law is concerned, there are variations throughout the states as to the law of auto accidents, but many of the core concepts are essentially the same. No matter the type of injury sustained, all injury victims must prove fault to obtain compensation. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation!

We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:

Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.

Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.