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The Burden of Proof in an Auto Accident Case

by | Jun 3, 2016

When a plaintiff sues a defendant for causing an auto accident, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof at trial. This means that the plaintiff is the person who has to provide evidence first at trial, and the plaintiff must convince the jury that the defendant was at fault and caused injuries to the plaintiff.

In a criminal case, the government needs to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, in an auto accident case, the plaintiff only needs to show the defendant’s fault, and the injuries that the plaintiff suffered, “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant was at fault and the plaintiff was injured as a result. In a single word, the plaintiff must show that the collision was “probably” the defendant’s fault, and “probably” caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

This is a much lower burden to meet than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” For example, if the defendant runs a red light and hits your car, but claims that you ran the red light, then having a single independent witness who supports you will likely win the case for you. Furthermore, even if the case is just your word against the defendant’s, if your version of events makes more sense or you otherwise are more believable to the jury, then the jury should rule in your favor.

If you have questions about whether you’ll be able to successfully prove yourauto accident case in court, you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., for a free consultation.

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