For you to win your personal injury case, you (the plaintiff) must meet the burden proof demanded by state law. “Burden of Proof” is a term that refers to the evidence and arguments that prove your claim to a judge, jury, or insurer you’re negotiating with. If you or your lawyer fail to accomplish this, the court may find the defendant is not negligent or liable for the harm caused to you.
So, now that you know who has the burden of proof in your case let’s examine how you meet it.
The Basics of a Personal Injury Case in Central Florida
To recover compensation for injuries and damages related to an accident you were in, you will need to prove the accused party’s negligence caused your losses.
Typically, satisfying this standard requires the following:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care, and,
- They breached this duty, and,
- This failure caused you harm, and,
- The damages you suffered are a result of this harm.
When discussing duty of care, it refers to the consideration owed to those around us. By not considering this safety, one is potentially acting negligently and could cause harm.
There Must Be a Preponderance of Evidence
Evidence is a must when establishing that the defendant’s actions were negligent or reckless. This could be achieved by submitting medical records and photographs showing the severity of your injuries and the long-term impact they will have on your life. You might also need to submit evidence proving they committed a negligent action, like a dashcam video showing them swerving into you on the highway for no reason. Police reports are another invaluable piece of evidence that may include details like their being drunk at the time of the accident.
It’s important to remember that witness testimony is important, but the amount of witnesses you bring to testify doesn’t constitute a preponderance of evidence. For example, you could have other passengers in the car that saw them clearly distracted by their phone while driving, and the defendant can simply say they weren’t. It will ultimately be up to the jury’s impression of you and the at-fault driver to decide who is more credible in that case. This is why documentation is so crucial to any injury suit.
Proving “More Likely Than Not”
Unlike criminal court matters where a district attorney has to prove their argument against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, personal injury cases are civil court issues. This means your attorney has a much lower bar for establishing the facts of your claim. When the evidence shows that it is more likely than not that the at-fault party was negligent and caused your injuries, a jury may agree with your suit and award you compensation for your damages.
The Burden of Proof for the Defendant in Your Personal Injury Suit
It’s important to remember that the defendant in your action has no obligation to prove their account of events is accurate in a personal injury suit. Instead, it is on you, the plaintiff, to prove the elements of your claim. All the defendant must do is cast enough doubt on your evidence to convince the jury your allegations are not accurate.
Burden of Proof Requirements for Punitive Damages in Florida
In personal injury cases involving particularly egregious negligence or recklessness, your attorney may feel it’s appropriate to ask for punitive damages. Since this type of compensation is designed to punish, the burden of proof is much higher than that of other compensatory damages.
Specifically, you will need to provide convincing evidence and leave no question about why you deserve this level of compensation. Actions involving malicious, fraudulent, or oppressive acts are usually the primary reason a jury would agree to award you punitive damages.
You Need a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney
Understanding what burden of proof is necessary to successfully bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent individual who hurt you is crucial. At Jordan Law, we have represented thousands of accident cases requiring extensive investigation of the facts to build a solid case backed by unquestionable evidence. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.