Understanding Burden of Proof in Civil Lawsuits

by Staff | November 22nd, 2021

If you’ve been injured due to someone’s actions or negligence, you may be eligible for compensation by filing a civil lawsuit. This can help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages the incident caused.

You may receive a better outcome of your civil lawsuit by hiring an attorney to manage your case.

Our San Francisco personal injury lawyers have decades of experience helping injured parties file claims and fight their case in court. We understand the requirements of burden of proof and proving fault. We can help make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

What Is Burden of Proof?

Burden of proof is the legal requirement that identifies the party responsible for presenting evidence to prove or disprove a claim.

If your party has the burden of proof, you are legally required to provide enough evidence for your claim to be supported. Your evidence may include documents, witness testimony, and objects.

In most cases, the burden of proof falls on the party bringing the claim, also known as the plaintiff.

In a trial, the judge assigns the burden of proof. After evidence is presented to the court, the judge and jury decide if the burden of proof was satisfied and what consequences will result assuming the burden of proof was met.

The type of evidence and the amount of proof a party submits depend on the case’s circumstances.

Some cases require the plaintiff to prove their claim beyond a reasonable doubt, while others are less strict and have straightforward standards of proof.

Burden of Proof in Civil Lawsuits

In civil lawsuits, the party filing the lawsuit, known as the plaintiff, has burden of proof. Plaintiffs must prove their allegations are true and that the other party, known as the defendant, is responsible for causing the damages.

Plaintiffs establish the burden of proof by presenting a preponderance of evidence; clear and convincing evidence, including evidence of negligence.

How Attorneys Prove Fault in Civil Cases

The plaintiff’s lawyer can establish burden of proof and prove fault by presenting evidence in court.

●      Preponderance of Evidence

The lowest standard of proof required is a preponderance of evidence. The standard of preponderance occurs when the plaintiff convinces the court their claim has a 50% or more chance of being true and that the defendant is responsible for 50% or more of the plaintiff’s suffering or loss.

●      Clear and Convincing Evidence

More serious civil cases require a higher probability that the claim is true, called clear and convincing evidence. This standard is more rigorous than preponderance of evidence but less rigorous than beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

To meet the clear and convincing evidence standard, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the claim is substantially more likely to be true than not true. It requires a higher probability than preponderance of the evidence.

The clear and convincing standard is used in claims involving fraud, withdrawing life support from a relative, and with wills and inheritance.

●      Proving Negligence

In claims where negligence is involved, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the defendant acted in a way that failed to exercise care. They must prove that this failure resulted in the plaintiff’s injury or damages. Your lawyer also needs to prove that the defendant acted in a way that others in their position would not have acted. Negligence is an unintentional behavior, meaning they weren’t acting with the intent to harm others.

How it Differs from Criminal Cases

In criminal cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until the prosecutors establish guilt. The prosecution in criminal cases has the burden of proof. The defendant doesn’t need to prove their innocence in a criminal case. The plaintiff, however, must prove guilt.

Prosecutors in criminal cases have the highest standard of proof compared to any other type of case. They must prove the defendant carried out the criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sometimes defendants will enter a plea to help with their defense, such as entering a plea of self-defense or insanity plea to justify their actions.

Hire an Attorney for Your Civil Lawsuit

Parties that make a claim have the responsibility of proving their claims are true. You need enough high-quality evidence to fulfill your burden of proof. The higher the stakes of the lawsuit, the more convincing your evidence needs to be.

Hiring an attorney can help your case. They understand the burden of proof and how to prove the other party is at fault. Your lawyer will gather evidence and put a strong case together to help you succeed in court.

If you live in California, consider hiring Berg Injury Lawyers for your civil case. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will fight for you to help ensure you’re compensated for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.