Filing a personal injury claim may not be as easy as you may think. Behind every successful case is a sufficient burden of proof. Unless fulfilled to such a standard, the odds of winning a case will be unlikely. When intimidated by the liable party’s insurance company, the burden of proof is your only hope.
What is the Burden of Proof?
The Legal Information Institute defines the burden of proof as a court standard. To prove a fact in court, you must be able to establish that fact legally. In personal injury cases, that means you should lawfully prove negligence. Thus, anything that you say against the liable party must be verifiable.
Personal injury claims are civil cases. If you file a civil case, you become the plaintiff. Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving someone else’s fault. For example, a reckless driver may have caused your injuries in a car crash. Though the said driver is liable, he only needs to defend himself against your accusations. Meanwhile, as a plaintiff, you need to work harder to win. You must find enough evidence to show that the accident was indeed his fault.
Burden of Proof Standards
In court proceedings, the burden of proof must be clear and convincing. The state of Arizona follows this standard as required by the US Supreme Court. So, how do you ensure that your evidence is clear and convincing? Two distinct concepts further explain the burden of proof:
Burden of Production
When you hold someone else accountable for your injuries, you must have enough evidence. To put it simply, you must show that your argument is valid. This can be proven by photos, videos, and other documentation related to the accident.
The evidence must support your allegations. In personal injury cases, it should convince the court that the accident happened due to the defendant’s fault. Moreover, it should show that this fault resulted in your injuries and other damages. The testimonies of eyewitnesses and experts are some of the ways to further validate your claim. There are also industry experts who can testify and interpret complex types of evidence. For example, accident reconstruction experts can clearly explain how a car accident happened. Using technical data from the evidence, such experts can uncover the factors that led to the collision.
Burden of Persuasion
This is where you most need the expertise of injury lawyers. Your lawyer will plead and prove your claim to the court. He/she must be able to persuade the court that the evidence is valid. His/her argument must express how the liable party behaved negligently, causing the injury.
Arizona is a comparative fault state. Here, insurance companies would use every trick in the book to reduce their liability. The defendant’s insurer may twist your version of the story. If the court finds that you were partially responsible for the accident, you may receive lower compensation.
If you were to do it all by yourself, you may find the process complicated and confusing. When faced with aggressive defendants, you need legal expertise to counter their alibis. So how do you prevent this from becoming a “your word against theirs” situation? This is why you need to hire a skilled injury lawyer. Having legal representation saves you from the frustration of sharing part of the blame. Furthermore, it also gives you time to focus on healing and getting better. Most of all, having a lawyer boosts your chances of getting the compensation that you deserve.
Preponderance of Evidence
In personal injury cases, there has to be a “preponderance of evidence” on your claim. The evidence should demonstrate at least 51% of the certainty to prove liability. For your injury claim to be successful, you must be able to reach this threshold.
Hiring an accident attorney will give you a fighting chance. With his/her trial experience, you can meet the preponderance of evidence. This means that the evidence establishes the fault of the liable party, more likely than not. Your attorney will investigate more if needed to meet the burden of proof.
For example, one of our former clients was a truck accident victim. He was about to take a turn when his motorcycle was hit by a truck at an intersection. While going through the witness statements, we found out that the case lacked a preponderance of evidence. There were not enough testimonies that showed the truck driver’s fault. Worse, it implied that the victim might have been speeding beyond the limit, causing the accident.
Thus, our legal team searched for traffic footage. We were able to track down new witnesses who gave more accurate testimonies. Further investigation showed that the victim was not speeding as their testimonies matched. As it turned out, the truck driver failed to slow down and slammed the motorcycle. Hence, we proved to the court that the victim’s claim is valid for compensation.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer
Anyone who needs to file a personal injury claim needs to understand the burden of proof. A lawyer will help you gather enough evidence to present in court. Meeting the burden of proof does not necessarily mean more evidence. It refers to the quality of your photos, videos, medical records, and documentation. You may have gathered more; but if those things do not imply the fault of the liable party, then you may fail. An experienced lawyer can evaluate which evidence is more likely to have weight in court.