As personal injury lawyers, we hear questions like “what is the burden of proof?” “What is the burden of proof in a civil case?” and “what are the 3 burdens of proof?” quite often. If these are questions you’ve asked before, don’t feel bad – there are a lot of complicated terminologies and legal jargon that can make it intimidating to attempt to understand. Thankfully, it’s our job to know all these things and be able to easily explain them to our clients to take some of the confusion out of what is likely already a stressful and complicated time in your life. In this blog, we’ll be answering these questions so you can be more informed and confident in yourself should you ever want to take legal action following an injury-related event where you need a personal injury lawyer.
If you’ve been wondering, “what is the burden of proof?” you’ve come to the right place!
What is the burden of proof?
The answer to a question like “what is the burden of proof?” is a lot simpler than you may think. The term “burden of proof” is a legal requirement establishing who is responsible for presenting evidence to prove or disprove a claim as factual. It’s intended to ensure that all decisions made in a case are based on facts, not conjecture or conclusory statements.
During a trial, a burden of proof is the legal standard required by a party to prove their case. If a party has a burden of proof in a case, the law requires them to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims and meet that burden. The judge and jury must decide whether this party has satisfied the burden and what the consequences of doing so or failing to do so will be in the case – will the party prevail, will the case get dismissed or will the jury find in favor of the other side. Typically, the party charged with burden of proof is the plaintiff bringing the claim. Evidence can come in a wide variety of forms, including, but not limited to, documents, witness testimony, expert testimony, and physical evidence.
Different circumstances have different standards for what evidence will satisfy the burden of proof, and this is where the answer to a question like “what is the burden of proof?” can get confusing. The main thing you need to understand is the difference between criminal and civil cases. In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proof, and they must satisfy it by proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. What is burden of proof in a civil case? In a civil case, the plaintiff is responsible for satisfying the burden of proof by proving their case by a preponderance of evidence. By “preponderance of evidence,” it’s meant that the plaintiff must prove that their claims are meet the more likely than not standard – some lawyers describe this as a feather on a scale just pushing the weight of the evidence in favor of one party over another to tip the scales to 51%. As you can see, the answer to a question like “what is the burden of proof?” changes depending on the type of case being presented – civil or criminal.
If you’re still wondering, “what are the 3 burdens of proof?” you just learned about two of them – proof beyond a reasonable doubt and preponderance of evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is the third burden, and it requires a higher standard of proof than preponderance of evidence but a lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
What does it mean for your case?
For your case, you’ll only need to focus on the answer to the “what is burden of proof in a civil case?” question. In a civil case, you’ll need to prove by a preponderance of evidence that your claim is true. In other words, you’ll need to demonstrate that there is greater than a 50% chance that the defendant is liable for what happened and the resulting injuries.
Understanding burden of proof is important if you’re considering taking legal action, but discussing your case in detail with experienced attorneys like Whalen Injury Lawyers will give you a much better understanding of what you can expect in this process and how these cases proceed forward in different contexts – prelitigation and litigation. Contact us to get more information today.