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Criminal proceedings and civil cases work differently. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a defendant committed an offense. It’s an extremely rigorous standard. Civil cases are a little less stringent, but they operate on the same general assumption: The burden of proof rests on the person making the accusation. How much proof do you need at trial if you are bringing a personal injury suit against an individual or company?
In a civil proceeding, the injured victim must prove a case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” For a personal injury suit, this requires the plaintiff to provide enough evidence that their claim is more likely true than untrue. In other words, you must convince a jury that it’s “more likely than not” that the incident occurred in the way you described.
The preponderance of the evidence at the beginning of a trial is neutral. Think of the trial as tipping the scales in favor of one party over another. If your attorney presents enough evidence to tip the scales even slightly in favor of your version of events, the jury will rule favorably on your case. There is no specific formula that determines whether your case has enough evidence for a guaranteed victory. Rather, your attorney might tell a jury they must rule in your favor if they believe there is at least a 51% likelihood of truth. In civil law, the evidentiary standard is between 51% to 100% likelihood of probability.
How does your attorney prove your version of events is more likely to be true that that of the defendant? Your attorney must prove the defendant (person causing your injuries) committed negligence. There are four elements of negligence that pertain to establishing a preponderance of the evidence in a personal injury case:
Together, these four elements make up the foundation of proving a personal injury claim. You’re likely to win your case as long as your attorney proves it was “more likely than not” that these elements are true.