Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Litigation
Burden of Proof
Insurance company lawyers love to talk to juries about how the plaintiff has the burden of proof in personal injury cases. This is true, but generally rather meaningless. The burden of proof in civil cases requires you, the injured plaintiff, to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. To win in a personal injury case, your evidence needs merely to outweigh, by any amount, the defendant’s evidence. In criminal cases, the prosecution’s burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much more onerous burden.
Your lawyer should remind the jury, during both the opening and closing statements, of the easy burden that you must sustain. He or she will also probably ask the jurors during voir dire if anyone has a problem with the concept that you need to prove your case by a mere preponderance to prevail. It is a very important point that needs to be hammered home so that the jury decides the case in accordance with the law.