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What Burden of Proof Is Required by a Personal Injury Claim?

Published on Jul 9, 2024 at 7:33 pm in Personal Injury.

If you ever file a personal injury lawsuit in Baton Rouge, you will receive a crash course in how the law works.

First, you’ll learn the difference between a criminal and civil case and how the burden of proof applies. While most states use the terminology “burden of proof,” here in Louisiana we refer to the concept as “burden of persuasion.” Louisiana Code of Evidence Article 302 describes what this concept entails.

Settlements Versus Lawsuits

It is often in the parties’ best interest to settle a personal injury lawsuit out of court. That would involve having your attorneys negotiate directly with the insurance company of the person you got into the accident with.

Although the burden of proof is a legal concept that’s used in court proceedings, your lawyers will strive to apply those same standards as they craft a settlement agreement with the insurance entity. They will present a preponderance of evidence to the insurance adjustors. This will be the same evidence they will use in court.

In simple terms, the facts in your case need to be considered as having at least a 51 percent chance of being true. When that is shown to the insurance company, they might realize it is more affordable for them to resolve the matter.

However, if you suffered serious injury in a car accident and no reasonable offer is presented for a settlement, the next option is to take the matter before a judge and jury. The attorneys at Bianca | Matkins will consider the merits of your case and will advise you on the best way forward. We understand the importance of presenting evidence beyond the minimum standards. The goal is to leave no doubt in the mind of the jury as to what would be a fair remedy.

Burden of Persuasion

As the plaintiff in a car accident lawsuit, you and your lawyers have the burden of persuasion to present the evidence of your injuries. First, you must establish that the defendant is liable for the injuries you suffered because of their actions. Establishing a defendant’s neglect means proving each of the following elements:

  • The driver of the car owes you a duty of care.
  • The driver breached that duty of care.
  • This breach caused an injury to you.
  • You sustained provable monetary damages as a result.

For example, every driver is expected to follow the rules of the road. That is the duty of care. If a driver is speeding, that would be a break. You have a case when that negligent chain of events causes an accident that leads to medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

From the court’s perspective, the defendant does not have to prove anything. They don’t have to call a witness or present evidence. They only need to challenge your assertions. However, they have the right to raise an affirmative defense. When that happens, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant’s case.

They now have to prove if the accident should fall under the concept of comparative negligence. That is when both parties are partially at fault. The same standards of preponderance of the evidence will apply to the defendant if they opt for an affirmative defense.

Types of Evidence Used To Meet a Burden of Proof

Before demanding compensation from an insurer or proceeding to trial, your attorney will analyze a variety of documentation and other items of evidentiary value that they may use to prove your case, such as the following:

Photos and Video

The photos and videos you take at the accident scene can become vital pieces of evidence in your personal injury lawsuit. Those photos might not prove liability, but they could present a picture of the accident demonstrating who might be at fault and the extent of the damage.

Traffic Accident Report

When a state or local police officer responds to your crash, the Baton Rouge Police Department will generate a report that provides many supportive details about what happened. That document states if the defendant was cited for a traffic violation. That helps lean the preponderance of evidence in your favor.

Witness Statements

Anyone who saw what happened at the moment of impact can provide evidence that supports your case. You could video those statements at the accident scene while their memory is fresh. A witness can be called to testify at your trial to corroborate what they saw.

Documentation of Damages

Finally, you will want to present proof of all your out-of-pocket expenses. These can include outlays for the following:

  • ER and hospital visits
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • Lost wages

There could also be punitive damages that include pain and suffering associated with your accident. That can consist of all the aspects of how the accident prevents you from enjoying your life as you once did.

Getting Help in Building Your Case

Even though you have the burden of proof, you shouldn’t hesitate to discuss the matter with an experienced law firm like Bianca | Matkins. We have established the preponderance of evidence in dozens of personal injury lawsuits. We’d be happy to share our track record of success.

Call to schedule a consultation to discuss the merits of your case today.

 

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