The process of pursuing a South Florida personal injury lawsuit can seem convoluted. If your injuries are serious, you really should be working with a dedicated personal injury attorney to help guide you through the steps and ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of by other stakeholders. In any case, having a base knowledge of the legal jargon you’re likely to encounter is important. One phrase you may hear frequently is “burden of proof.”
What is a Proof Burden?
The burden of proof is, at its core, a responsibility. It refers to the legal requirement that determines the viability of a claim based on the factual evidence produced.
A proof burden is indicative of both production AND persuasion. In other words, it identifies who bears the greater responsibility to produce the evidence, as well as the minimum standard one must meet in order for the court to consider a fact (or set of facts) to be legally proven. The difficulty of one’s proof burden depends on the type of case.
In criminal defense cases, the prosecution must prove their allegations of a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is recognized as the most stringent proof burden in the legal system. The judge or jury must be convinced there is no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence at trial. The intention is for jurors to be virtually certain of the defendant’s guilt before rendering a guilty verdict.
In South Florida personal injury cases (handled in civil court), the plaintiff, or person who experienced the harm at the hands of the other, bears the proof burden. That means they, rather than prosecutors, must establish the truth of their claims, and they must do so by a preponderance of the evidence standard. This requires that the court find there is a greater than 50 percent chance the plaintiff’s claim is true. In tort matters (like injury lawsuits), prevailing will compel the defendant to pay fair compensation. Continue reading