When you are involved in an accident, there are likely many questions and concerns that will cross your mind. In the moment, most victims are primarily concerned for their safety and wellbeing and will want to contact the authorities to get the help and medical attention they need. However, after the accident and the injuries are initially dealt with, you may wonder how to proceed going forward to ensure you are compensated for your pain and suffering and other damages, such as medical expenses.
This is when you would contact an attorney and file a personal injury claim. Personal injury claims allow victims to recover compensation for damages they have suffered after something like a car accident, for example. However, you will not simply be handed money without first proving your personal injury claim.
Personal injury cases are civil cases, which are handled differently than criminal cases. In a criminal case, the defendant is typically put on trial and must attempt to prove their innocence to avoid charges. In a civil case, however, it is the plaintiff’s (the injured victim) responsibility to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the accident and their injuries are the result of the defendant’s negligence—and this is where the “burden of proof” comes into play.
When dealing with personal injury cases, the burden of proof simply means that the burden of proving what happened falls on the plaintiff. This means that as the injured victim, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence to show that someone else’s negligence is what caused the accident and your resulting injuries.
However, doing so is not always as easy as it may seem. With a car accident, for example, it may seem obvious to you that the other driver was at fault, but you will still be burdened with the responsibility of providing the evidence to prove that what you claim is true.
This is because when you file a personal injury claim, it is usually the defendant’s insurance company that is responsible for providing a settlement to compensate you for your damages. And unfortunately, insurers are notorious for fighting against claims or trying to find ways to reduce settlement amounts. So you will have to provide enough evidence to convince them of all that you have suffered to win your case and receive adequate compensation.
There are different types of evidence or levels of proof in legal cases that may be needed to win a case. Your injury itself, such as a broken bone or a concussion, is a burden of proof of personal injury that can support your claim as it is obvious evidence that something occurred and that you were injured as a result. Still, simply showing the insurance company your injury is not enough.
To win a personal injury case in Indiana, there has to be a certain amount of evidence to tip the scales in your favor, which is typically enough evidence that proves your claim is true by 51% or more. So, what is burden of proof in personal injury cases? It’s evidence—sufficient evidence to prove that you are the victim of someone else’s negligence.
The three levels of proof or evidence are:
- Beyond Reasonable Doubt: As the term implies, “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” simply means that there is no other explanation, and the defendant is obviously guilty. This level of proof only applies to criminal cases, however.
- Clear and Convincing: This level of proof means that what you are attempting to prove is highly probable as there is a significant amount of evidence to clearly show what happened.
- Preponderance of Evidence: This level of evidence is the lowest burden of proof, but it is what is most often relied upon in personal injury cases. This is considered a lower standard for proof because the guilty party is not on trial for having committed a criminal act. Preponderance of Evidence simply means that the plaintiff must provide enough evidence (at least 51%) to prove that the defendant is more likely than not the one at fault.
As already mentioned, part of proving a personal injury case is showing that another party acted negligently and is thus responsible for your injuries. This notion of negligence is associated with what is known as a “duty of care.” So, when considering how to prove a personal injury claim, what we are really talking about is proving that someone owed you a duty of care.
With car accidents, for example, the duty of care is the driver’s responsibility to operate their vehicle with reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. If they breach this duty, it means they have acted negligently and caused someone harm.
There are generally four things that are required to prove a personal injury claim or to prove that another party acted negligently:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty by acting unreasonably
- The defendant’s negligent actions caused an accident
- Your injuries were the direct result of the accident and thus the result of the defendant’s negligent actions
This is ultimately what the burden of proof is in personal injury claims. It is that the plaintiff must provide enough evidence to prove the above four things to convince the insurance company or the court that the defendant acted negligently and is thus responsible for the damages that occurred. This, of course, is not always easy and often requires the help of an attorney.
If you are injured in an accident and have questions or concerns about the burden of proof for your case, the personal injury attorneys at Poynter & Bucheri can assist you. Navigating legal cases and understanding how everything works can be overwhelming and stressful. Our goal is to guide you through the process and advocate for your rights to ensure sufficient evidence is provided to win your case. Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.