The Burden Of Proof In A Florida Personal Injury Case
If you have suffered severe injuries in Florida because of another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation by filing a personal injury claim. You must note that, for a case of negligence to exist, someone must have owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care. Additionally, for you to recover compensation in a personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence is what caused your injuries and the damages you have suffered and anticipate suffering (if applicable) as a result of your injury.
To win your personal injury case, you and your attorney must meet the burden of proof specific to your case. So, what exactly is the “burden of proof?” Simply put, “burden of proof” is the standard of proof a plaintiff seeking to prove a fact must satisfy to have that fact legally established. In personal injury cases, the plaintiff needs to prove the case. This gives defendants a slight advantage considering they generally don’t need to prove anything. Because of this, it is vital that you retain a skilled lawyer to help you with your personal injury case. An attorney can help you meet the burden of proof in your case in a manner that convinces the insurance company or court of the defendant’s negligence that led to you suffering your injury as well as the losses linked to your injury.
In the following sections, get to learn more about the burden of proof in your Florida personal injury case.
What Is the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases?
In Florida and the U.S., in general, when it comes to personal injury cases, a plaintiff is required to prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a standard of proof that generally all civil cases use. This burden of proof requires a plaintiff to prove their claims are “more likely than not” true. Essentially, as the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you need to show there is at least a 51% chance that you are telling the truth. Often, fifty-fifty odds are not good enough.
It is crucial to note that proving your case by a preponderance of the evidence does not entail you having more evidence than the defendant. It means that you have evidence that provides sufficient proof that the defendant’s negligent actions led to your injury and damages. An attorney can help you get witness testimonies and expert testimony (if necessary) and gather physical evidence that can help you meet this burden of proof and prove your claim.
How the Burden of Proof Standard Applies to the Defendant
As already mentioned, the burden of proof in personal injury cases always falls on the injured victim seeking compensation. In a personal injury case, the defendant is often not required to prove anything. A defendant will only be required to prove their claim in limited circumstances. For example, when a defendant brings up an “affirmative defense,” they assume the burden of proof. Unfortunately, if a defendant meets the burden of proof after bringing up an affirmative defense such as the defense known as “assumption of risk,” regardless of your success in proving the elements of your claim, your case will most likely be defeated. The defense of assumption of risk could arise if, for example, you agreed to participate in a sport, even after knowing about the dangers involved.
Often, what happens in personal injury cases is defendants rebut plaintiffs’ claims. For example, a defendant can rebut your evidence by introducing their own. In a situation where a defendant disputes your claims because the burden of proof falls on you, the court will not need to be convinced that what the defendant is claiming is true. Instead, all that is necessary for your case to fail is that the court believes that there is a 50% or more chance your claim is false. So, when a defendant rebuts your evidence, they will be aiming to convince the court that your claims are “more likely than not” false and not that their claims are true.
A Lower Burden of Proof Does Not Make Things Easier
Criminal cases use the burden of proof known as “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a higher burden of proof standard than the preponderance of the evidence standard. However, just because the standard of proof in personal injury cases is lower, it doesn’t mean that proving your case will be easy and that you should represent yourself pro se. It is still imperative that you hire a lawyer for your personal injury case.
Contact a Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney
If you need help meeting the burden of proof in your Florida personal injury case and recovering compensation from an at-fault individual, contact one of our Fort Myers personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., today.