Verdicts in personal injury cases are not reached without thorough deliberation and thought. One important consideration is whether the burden of proof is satisfied.
In New York personal injury cases and many other civil lawsuits, the burden of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. You must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for your injuries. While this is a lower burden than criminal cases, it is still not easily met. Plaintiffs have the burden of proof, which means defendants do not necessarily have to prove anything themselves. To meet this burden, we must produce evidence of your claims and persuade a judge or jury that the defendant should be held liable. If we cannot meet this burden, we might lose the case or be forced to pull out and refile later when we have more evidence.
If you want to file a personal injury lawsuit, you must know the burden of proof and how to meet it. Our Westchester personal injury attorneys can help you meet this burden and prove your claims. For a free case evaluation, call The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.
The Burden of Proof in New York Personal Injury Lawsuits
In civil trials, including personal injury cases, the burden of proof is referred to as a preponderance of the evidence standard. Many people are familiar with the burden of proof in criminal trials, which holds that prosecutors must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden in a criminal trial is much higher than in a personal injury case. This is because a person’s life or freedom is not at stake in civil cases.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is close to near certainty of the defendant’s guilt. A preponderance of the evidence is a bit lower, and we must only show that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your injuries. If you think of proof of liability as a percentage, our New Rochelle personal injury lawyers must prove the case beyond 50% to meet the preponderance of the evidence.
In most personal injury cases, proving a preponderance of the evidence involves proving negligence. To prove negligence, we must establish four important legal elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Each element must be established, or else our burden is not met. Additionally, each element must individually satisfy the burden of proof. For example, if we present evidence of each element, but the element of duty has not been proven beyond 50%, the case might not win.
Who Has the Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Cases in New York
The plaintiff has the burden of proof in civil cases, including personal injury cases in New York. This is sometimes a surprise to plaintiffs because they are used to seeing both plaintiffs and defendants make intense arguments in court on TV shows or in news coverage of real cases. In truth, defendants are not required to prove anything. Plaintiffs have the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent and should be held liable.
While defendants do not have the burden of proof regarding negligence and liability, they might still bear the burden of proof for their defense claims. While most defense strategies do not come with a burden of proof, some do.
In an ordinary defense, the defendant can raise whatever defense they feel is necessary, and it is the plaintiff’s job to disprove that defense. However, depending on the situation, when the defendant raises an affirmative defense, which would negate liability, they have the burden of proving that defense. Exactly what that burden looks like might vary based on the defense raised by the defendant.
How to Meet the Burden of Proof in New York Personal Injury Lawsuits
While the burden of proof in a personal injury case seems low compared to criminal trials, do not be fooled. Meeting the burden of proof in your case will be difficult, and we will need strong evidence on our side to prove your claims by a preponderance of the evidence. Our White Plains personal injury attorneys can help you find the evidence you need to prove your claims and meet the burden of proof.
To prove your claims and meet the burden of proof, we must consider two important factors of the case: production and persuasion. We must produce evidence sufficient to prove your claims and persuade a judge or jury that this evidence meets the burden of proof. Remember, the trier of fact (i.e., the judge or jury) has the final say in your case, and they are the ones who decide whether we have met our burden.
We must also ensure that our evidence meets the relevant evidentiary standards. For example, evidence is not admissible if it is hearsay. Hearsay evidence includes out-of-court statements made by someone who is not present in the courtroom, and the statement is offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. If our evidence is inadmissible, we might have trouble meeting the burden of proof.
What Happens if I Cannot Meet the Burden of Proof in My New York Personal Injury Case?
If we cannot meet the burden of proof in your case, we might need to explore other possible legal options. If you still wish to pursue your lawsuit despite the low odds of meeting our burden, you risk losing the lawsuit. Our Mount Vernon personal injury attorney can help you determine the best legal options for your case.
Sometimes, we might discover that we cannot meet that burden of proof a little too late in the game. For example, we might realize during the trial that our evidence is unlikely to be admitted or is not as persuasive as we anticipated. In such a case, we might be able to drop the case and refile it later when we have strong evidence. However, we must refile before the statute of limitations runs down.
Another option is to forego the trial and negotiate a settlement with the defendant. Settlements occur outside the courtroom and are private, legally binding agreements between the parties. There is no burden of proof in settlements and getting at least some of your damages covered is better than losing the case at a trial.
Call Our New York Personal Injury Attorneys for Help
If you want to begin a personal injury lawsuit, our Yonkers personal injury lawyers can help you gather enough evidence to meet the burden of proof and hopefully win your case. For a free case evaluation, call The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950.