The burden of proof is a legal concept present in both civil (personal injury) and criminal cases. It is, however, different for each type of case. When you've been harmed by the actions of a persona or a business, the burden of proof could figure prominently in your trial. Read on and find out more about what is meant by the burden of proof.

For the Jury to Decide

In a trial, the facts of a case must be proven in a convincing manner to the jury. The jury bears the burden of making a decision on the case based on those facts. It is the degree to which the parties must prove their case that makes the difference between the two burden of proof standards. When it comes to criminal matters, someone's life and liberty could be at risk. That is why the burden of proof for criminal cases is said to be stricter than that of a civil matter. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is used in criminal trials, and it means that a reasonable person would say, given the evidence, that a defendant is guilty.

The Civil Burden of Proof

While a civil trial doesn't deal with the guilt or innocence of a person, civil matters often concern victims who've been through a great deal of pain and suffering because of the actions of another. The burden of proof for civil cases is based on a preponderance of the evidence. That phrase provides some insight into one of the primary differences in civil and criminal matters—the importance of evidence over motive or other personal characteristics of the plaintiff.

The Importance of Evidence

When a person suffers harm from another, evidence to prove the case is a must. You might find your attorney already beginning to gather evidence at your first meeting and that quest never stops until you prevail. The word preponderance means quantity, importance, and strength and that is what it takes to convince a jury that you should win your case. Take a car accident case, for example. The following list of evidence is considered just the starting point for mounting a good personal injury case against the other driver and their insurers.

  • Police or accident reports from the scene.
  • Photographs of skid marks, roadside damage, and wrecked vehicles.
  • Video from traffic, residential, or business cameras.
  • Expert witness testimony from accident reconstruction engineers.
  • Eyewitness testimony from bystanders.
  • Medical records of the victim.

And so much more.

Your actions can play a part in how your case is resolved if you keep in mind the words "preponderance of the evidence". Speak to your automobile accident attorney to learn more.