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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case

When a person is injured in an accident that was the result of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, he or she is responsible for proving this. This is known as the burden of proof in personal injury law.

However, proving negligence beyond a reasonable doubt is no easy task, which is why it is important that victims work with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understand the importance of gathering convincing evidence and will go the extra mile to ensure that victims have a good chance of securing a personal injury settlement. They can also answer questions like What is respondeat superior in a personal injury case?

A Closer Look at the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases

A Closer Look at the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases

The "burden of proof" is, in essence, the legal standard that must be met in order to prove a claim in court. Anyone can claim that someone else caused their injuries, but proving that they did so is the key to success in such cases.

Although the concept appears straightforward, it can be difficult since the burden of proof may change from one case to another.

In criminal cases, for example, authorities have to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the person being charged perpetrated the crime in question. This is the most stringent of all proof criteria. The prosecution must demonstrate that, based on the proof presented, the only logical inference is that the accused committed the offense.

The same holds true for personal injury and civil cases. The plaintiff has the responsibility to prove that the defendant committed the offense and is, therefore, liable for the damages suffered.

Who Bears the Burden of Proof?

Every party involved in a lawsuit must produce proof to support their allegations. The burden of proof in a personal injury case is on the person who is pursuing damages, which is the plaintiff.

He or she is required to prove that their assertion is correct by a preponderance of the evidence, which quite simply means that it is more likely that what they are claiming is more likely to be true than not. In personal injury cases, plaintiffs must prove that the defendant was indeed acting negligently, which resulted in the accident.

Only if he or she denies culpability and requests affirmative relief (such as monetary damages) does the defendant carry the burden of proof. Suppose, for example, a victim is injured in a car accident and files a personal injury claim, accusing the defendant of being intoxicated by drugs.

In that case, it will be the plaintiff's job to prove that the accused was indeed under the influence of drugs, which led to the collision. However, if this is not the case, it will be up to the defendant to prove his or her innocence by presenting evidence.

Meeting the Standard of Proof in a Personal Injury Claim

To satisfy the standard of proof required for the case, the plaintiff will need to present evidence to back up their claim. In the example above, the plaintiff might produce blood alcohol test results taken by law enforcement on the day of the accident.

They could also present surveillance footage of the accident to prove that the defendant acted negligently. Medical bills could also be used to prove that they suffered real injuries because of the crash.

The truth is that a personal injury case will differ from a civil or criminal case because the victim will be required to prove four elements. They include the following:

Duty of Care

The first aspect that a plaintiff must prove is that the law imposed a responsibility on the defendant. In the case of the car accident example, driving while intoxicated is strictly prohibited. The defendant had a duty of care to the defendant to use public roadways and travel in a way that would not have caused him or her harm.

Breach of Duty

Next, the victim must prove that the defendant failed to hold up their end of the bargain. In the example, the intoxicated driver broke the law by operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. The blood alcohol test could be used here to prove a breach of duty.


The third element that must be proved in order for personal injury lawsuits to be successful is causation.

Simply put, this means that the actions of the other party or breach of their duty of care are what led to the car crash. Surveillance footage, photographic evidence, and witness statements can be used here to prove causation.

Resultant Damages

Finally, victims must prove that the accident resulted in real damages. In order for a personal injury claim to be successful, the plaintiff must have suffered injuries that were a direct result of the accident. There must be clear and convincing evidence presented that proves that the plaintiff's injuries were not because of a chronic illness or an unrelated incident.

To do this, the victim must provide their medical records and may require witness testimonies from medical professionals to prove that their injuries were, in fact, caused by the event in question.

The plaintiff will also need to prove that they suffered other damages because of the incident. Lost income, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, as well as loss of consortium, may also be claimed in these cases.

Why It's Important for Victims to Seek Legal Representation

Why It's Important for Victims to Seek Legal Representation

Although it often isn't possible to prove liability without a reasonable doubt, plaintiffs can prove all the elements mentioned above with the help of a qualified, experienced attorney. Personal injury lawyers in Houston are well-versed in the burden of proof standards and can help guide victims when pursuing restitution.

Without legal representation, it will be incredibly difficult for victims to prove negligence. A reliable attorney will conduct their own investigation and hire experts to provide witness testimonies, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for compensation. They can also advise on assumption of risk in a personal injury case.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Are Here to Help

The burden of proof entails providing sufficient evidence to back up a claim in a criminal, personal injury, or civil case. Those who bear the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit must prepare a compelling case with enough evidence to prove all four elements.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understand the importance of providing enough evidence and will go to war for victims to ensure that justice is met. They can contact the firm to discuss the details of their case at a free consultation.


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