You might know for a fact that one or more parties are responsible for causing your recent injuries in Nebraska. Yet, to achieve financial compensation from a defendant, however, you or your personal injury lawyer in Omaha must successfully meet the burden of proof. This means you must provide evidence demonstrating that the defendant caused or contributed to your injuries. Understanding the burden of proof in a personal injury case can help you move forward with your legal action.
What Does it Mean to Have the Burden of Proof?
The burden of proof refers to the legal responsibility in a civil or criminal case to meet a certain evidentiary threshold before a defendant will be found guilty of a crime or liable for a plaintiff’s losses. It means that a judge or jury must be convinced to a specific degree of the defendant’s guilt or liability based on the evidence presented by the prosecutor or plaintiff.
Contrary to popular belief, the burden of proof does not apply to a case as a whole. For example, a jury does not need to be convinced that a defendant in a personal injury case is guilty of causing the plaintiff’s injuries overall. Instead, it applies to each unique element of the case. In personal injury law, these elements are a duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. The plaintiff must meet the required threshold for each individual element for a successful case.
Defining the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Different types of cases have different burdens of proof. A criminal case has the highest burden of proof: proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because a defendant’s life and freedom are hanging in the balance; the criminal justice system must ensure that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict him or her of a crime.
The burden of proof in a civil case, however, is lower. It is a “preponderance of the evidence,” or “more likely than not.” In general, this means that the plaintiff must convince a judge or jury using clear evidence that the elements of a case are more likely to be as he or she presents them than not. In other words, the plaintiff’s version of events must be true with a likelihood of at least 51 percent.
In a personal injury case, the burden of proof rests with the filing party or plaintiff. This means that the plaintiff must prove that his or her version of events is correct. The defendant is not required to prove that his or her story is true; instead, the defense attorney’s goal is to prove that the odds of the plaintiff’s version being false or inaccurate are at 51 percent or more.
How Can You Meet the Burden of Proof?
If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury claim in Nebraska, protect yourself by hiring an attorney. An attorney will have a thorough understanding of the burden of proof, as well as the knowledge, tools and resources to help you meet the required threshold. Your lawyer can immediately go to work on preserving and collecting key evidence to meet the burden of proof, such as:
- Photographs and videos
- Signed eyewitness statements
- Accident reports
- Medical records
- Injury journal
- Expert testimony
Then, your lawyer can use exceptional storytelling to persuade the courts that your version of events is most likely true. While the burden of proof in a personal injury claim is not as difficult to meet as in a criminal case, it can still benefit you to hire an attorney. This can improve your chances of a successful lawsuit, as well as allow you to rest, relax and concentrate on healing. An experienced lawyer will build a claim and tell your story for you. For more information about the burden of proof in a personal injury claim in Nebraska, contact Knowles Law Firm to request a free consultation.