Burden of Proof

The burden of proof is the standard that a party in a legal case must meet to establish a fact. There are different burdens of proof for different types of cases. For example, in a civil case, the most common burden of proof is the preponderance of the evidence standard. 

We examine the burden of proof in further detail below. 

Burden of Proof Overview

Burden of Proof Overview

The burden of proof in a legal case establishes who is responsible for presenting evidence that proves or defeats a claim. It also determines the amount of evidence needed to achieve that goal. 

Evidence in a legal case is typically in the form of documents, objects, and witness testimonies. In a civil case, the party bringing the claim, known as the plaintiff, typically has the burden of proof. The judge and jury will decide if the plaintiff was able to satisfy their burden of proof. 

The extent to which a party must convince the judge and jury and the types of evidence necessary depends on the circumstances of the case. 

The Burden of Proof: Civil vs. Criminal Cases

The burden of proof is different in civil and criminal cases. 

In a civil case, the burden of proof falls upon the plaintiff. The plaintiff in a civil case usually must prove that the allegations are true and that the defendant caused damages. The burden of proof in most civil cases is the preponderance of the evidence standard. This means that the plaintiff must prove that it is more likely than not that the other party in the case caused damages. 

However, civil cases sometimes involve a higher standard, such as the clear and convincing evidence standard. For example, if the plaintiff is seeking punitive damages, they must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted maliciously, fraudulently, or oppressively in causing the injury.

The burden of proof may shift to the defendant in some situations, such as if the defendant asserts an affirmative defense. 

In criminal cases, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. However, there are some situations in which a defendant may wish to prove their innocence, such as during claims of insanity and self-defense. The burden of proof in most criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Different Burdens of Proof

As noted above, there are different burdens of proof for different types of cases. A burden of proof specifies what a party must demonstrate to prove a claim. The higher the stakes in a case, the more difficult it becomes to meet this burden. Below is an overview of some of the most common standards of proof in different types of judicial proceedings.

Preponderance of the Evidence

In most personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove their claims by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the plaintiff, who is the injured party who filed the lawsuit, must convince the court that their claims are more likely than not to be true. In other words, the plaintiff must convince the court that there is at least a 51% chance that their legal claim is valid. 

So, to succeed in a personal injury case under this standard, the plaintiff must convince the court that it is more likely than not that their version of what occurred is accurate and that financial compensation is recoverable under state law.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

The clear and convincing evidence standard is far more stringent than the commonly used preponderance of the evidence standard. It involves demonstrating a high probability that the plaintiff’s allegation occurred. It most often applies in personal injury cases involving punitive damages.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Finally, most criminal cases apply the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. To prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution in a criminal case must prove that the defendant committed the crime that they are accused of having committed. They must convince the jury that there’s no other logical explanation than finding the defendant guilty. The reason for this heightened standard in criminal cases is that a person’s freedom is often at stake. 

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney to Discuss the Applicable Burden of Proof in Your Case

If you’ve been hurt in an accident in Las Vegas, Nevada, you need an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your corner. An attorney will help you prove the elements of your case and ensure that you meet the burden of proof necessary to recover compensation. Call Battle Born Injury Lawyers at (702) 570-9000 or fill out our contact form to get legal help.