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What is Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case?

What is Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case?

If you’ve ever watched a network crime drama, you have likely heard the terms like “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “burden of proof” in a courtroom scene. And if you have been injured in an accident and are wondering whether you have a personal injury case, it can be very helpful to understand what burden of proof is. I’ll define the burden of proof below, and discuss why it matters in every personal injury case.

If you have been harmed in an accident and are unsure whether you have a case, a Northern New Jersey personal injury attorney at Buttafuoco & Associates can help you determine whether your case satisfies the burden of proof. Consultations are always free, and can help you understand your rights.

Burden of Proof After an Accident

Let’s say you are injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence.

If you want to receive fair compensation for your injuries, it’s unfortunately not enough to simply state that the accident was their fault based on your own recollection of events. You will have to take measures to prove that your claim is supported by additional physical evidence including police reports, photos, witness statements, and camera footage. As you can imagine, building a case can be challenging without legal training, so connecting with an experienced personal injury attorney serving New Jersey is often necessary to understand the evidence standard.

We often associate burden of proof with criminal cases, where prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime.

However, in personal injury cases, there is a lower standard for burden of proof. As the plaintiff, you and your attorney will need to show through what is called a preponderance of the evidence that the other driver’s negligence resulted in your accident and injuries.

To do this, you will only need to present evidence demonstrating that there is over a 50 percent chance that your claims are correct.

Ways to Satisfy Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case

There are many types of personal injury cases, so satisfying the burden of proof will depend on your case. Typically, it involves gathering clear and convincing evidence from a variety of sources and presenting it in court.

Types of relevant evidence commonly include the following:

  • Accident reports
  • Photos of injuries
  • Photos of the scene of the accident
  • Witness testimonies
  • Expert testimonies (especially in medical malpractice cases)

Once the plaintiff presents evidence, the defense and their lawyer will usually attempt to demonstrate that the victim was at least partially responsible for the accident. In the state of New Jersey, we have comparative negligence laws where the victim cannot be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. If the defense can demonstrate that you were more than 50 percent responsible, you may not be able to recover damages from them.

Comparative negligence laws also maintain that any compensation a victim recovers can be reduced by the percentage of the accident the victim was at fault for.

In a car accident case, for example, they might try to show that the victim was texting at the time of the accident, or that they slammed on their brakes suddenly. If the defense is successful in proving this, the victim’s compensation will be reduced.

Defendants can also present what are known as affirmative defenses which can essentially erase the defendant’s liability for the accident.

For example, if the plaintiff filed their case after the statute of limitations expired, failed to have their injuries treated right away after the accident, or if the defendant can show that a third party (such as a car manufacturer responsible for a defect) caused the accident, the case may be closed or delayed.

How is Burden of Proof Important to My Case?

Burden of proof is the most important determinant of who wins and who loses a personal injury case.
If you succeed in satisfying the burden of proof with substantial evidence presented, you will win your case.

If you have insufficient evidence, you will lose.

As you can imagine, it is essential to work with a personal injury attorney in Northern New Jersey to ensure that you understand the legal standard and present a convincing case.

A good first step in any case, after you have sought medical care, is to connect with a personal injury attorney so you can receive compensation for medical bills and lost wages. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we have been defending victims of personal injury for decades, and can help you thoroughly understand your rights after your life has been changed due to another’s negligence.

For a free consultation, call 1-800-NOW-HURT.


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