What Is Preponderance of Evidence?: Understanding the Standard of Proof in Personal Injury Lawsuits

Proving your personal injury claim with the preponderance of evidence

Discover what preponderance of evidence means in legal cases with The Dressie Law Firm. Explore how this standard can impact the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit.

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Explaining the Preponderance of Evidence

If you’ve been injured due to the actions of another, you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the party responsible for your injury. In many cases, personal injury claims are resolved through the insurance companies of those at fault. But sometimes, the case might need to go to court for a just resolution.

If you’re the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you need to present the court with evidence that proves your claim and entitlement to compensation. But just how much evidence do you need to succeed? To answer this question, you need to first understand the standard of proof (degree or amount of evidence)required in civil cases such as personal injury lawsuits. This standard is known as the preponderance of evidence.

The preponderance of evidence standard requires that the party bearing the burden of proof (usually the plaintiff) present evidence that is more convincing and likely true than the evidence presented by the opposing party. 

    How can you meet this standard, and what types of evidence do you need? It might be difficult to tell without legal knowledge and a thorough understanding of Georgia’s personal injury laws. That’s why getting help from an experienced personal injury attorney who can represent you and ensure your case meets the required evidentiary standard is important.

    Our personal injury attorneys at The Dressie Law Firm understand the intricacies of meeting the standard of proof in personal injury cases and are well-equipped to guide you toward success. Read on as we explore the basics of the preponderance of evidence, highlighting some of the details you might need to succeed with your case. 

    The Preponderance of Evidence Distinguished From Other Standards of Proof

    Different standards of proof are used across courts in the U.S. legal system. For clarity, it is important to distinguish the preponderance of evidence from others.

    Thanks to the media, many people are aware of the standard of proof, known as proof beyond reasonable doubt. This standard of proof is used in criminal cases. It is the highest standard of proof and requires the prosecution (the equivalent of the plaintiff)in a criminal case to prove their case so that there’s no reasonable question of the defendant’s guilt in the mind of a reasonable person.

    The other standard of proof is known as “clear and convincing evidence.” This standard of proof is next to reasonable doubt in the hierarchy. In cases where this standard of proof is required, the party who filed the claim (plaintiff)must provide evidence to convince the jury that their claim is true to a high degree of probability. Even though there might be room for a little doubt under this standard, the evidence provided by the plaintiff should be enough to convince the judge and jury without hesitation that the plaintiff is in the right in most, if not all, the major aspects of the case.

    The preponderance of evidence is the least standard. Generally, this standard of proof is taken to mean that the party seeking to establish a particular claim or fact must show that there is more than a 50% chance that their claim or version of events is true. Essentially, your case might just have to be slightly better than the other party’s to succeed under this standard.

    However, even though the preponderance of evidence is widely used to establish liability in civil cases (including personal injury and wrongful death cases), sometimes the law on a subject may specifically demand that a different standard prove a particular aspect of a civil case. For example, OCGA 51-12-5.1 requires personal injury and tort claimants seeking punitive damages (to penalize or deter a defendant) to prove their entitlement to such damages with clear and convincing evidence.

    This does not affect their entitlement to general damages or compensation for their losses, which they may have established by proving the other party’s negligence. But if they must get anything extra by way of punitive damages, they would need to go the extra mile to prove that the defendant was guilty of actions like fraud or wilful misconduct with clear and convincing evidence.

      Application of Preponderance of Evidence in Personal Injury Cases: Types of Evidence Needed

      Personal injury claims in Georgia are based on four elements. To succeed with your personal injury lawsuit, you must prove these elements by the preponderance of evidence:

      • The Defendant Owed You a Duty of Care or Duty to Exercise Reasonable Care: The law recognizes that individuals have a duty to act or refrain from acting in ways that could cause harm to others in certain circumstances. For example, drivers have a duty to obey traffic laws and operate their vehicles safely. However, there are also instances where a legal duty of care might not exist, even though it might seem like there’s one, morally speaking. When in doubt, It is important to clarify the issue before you file a lawsuit to ensure there’s a legal basis for your claim.
      • Breach of Duty: Once you’ve established that the defendant has a duty of care toward you, you also need to establish that they breached that duty of care by acting or failing to act in a certain way. This breach can involve negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
      • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty must have been the direct cause of your accident or injury.
      • Damages: You must prove that you suffered actual and verifiable harm due to the defendant’s actions. This can include physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial losses such as medical expenses and lost wages.

      The type of evidence needed to establish each element varies with each case. However, personal injury cases typically rely on 

      • Testimony from witnesses
      • Expert opinions
      • Medical records
      • Financial statements
      • Police reports.

      It is not enough to just submit documents to court as proof of your claim. You must also consider the quality and authenticity of the evidence you intend to rely on if you hope to meet the standard of proof. For example, an unsigned doctor’s report will carry less weight in court compared with a signed one. 

      As you build your case, it is essential to filter all possible sources of evidence to ensure that those you present in court are enough to meet the preponderance of evidence standard. 

      The Role of an Attorney in Cases Requiring Preponderance of Evidence

      In legal cases requiring a “preponderance of evidence” standard, the role of an attorney is crucial in ensuring that the client’s case is presented effectively to meet the burden of proof.

      Our goal as  personal injury lawyers at The Dressie Law Firm is to help you construct a case so compelling that it satisfies this criterion, establishing that your claim is “more likely true than not.”

      Our role involves:

      • Case Evaluation: We evaluate the facts and evidence available to determine the strength of the case and its potential for success under the preponderance of evidence standard.
      • Strategic Planning: In each case we handle, we work to develop a comprehensive legal strategy that focuses on gathering and presenting the most compelling evidence to tip the scales in favor of our clients.
      • Gathering and Organizing Evidence: Our experienced team can help conduct thorough investigations and organize the available evidence in a coherent and logical manner that supports each client’s claim and counters the opposing party’s arguments.
      • Courtroom Representation: With our experience, we can help clients formulate convincing arguments that emphasize the quality and credibility of their evidence compared to the opposing side.
      • Alternative Dispute Resolution: Many personal injury cases are resolved through out-of-court settlements. We can represent clients in negotiations with the other party or their insurance company to ensure that any settlement reached is favorable.

      Our goal in the cases we handle is to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. So, if you need legal support in your personal injury case, our dedicated team is ready to provide tailored guidance and robust representation.

      Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys 

      Proving your case on the preponderance of evidence standard is paramount if you hope to win your personal injury lawsuit. This means you must establish that it’s more likely that the defendant is responsible for your injury. 

      Meeting the preponderance of evidence standard can be difficult without legal knowledge, which is why it is important to secure the services of a lawyer to help gather and organize evidence, fight the case in court, and work towards tipping the scales in your favor.

      If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, our experienced personal injury lawyers at The Dressie Law Firm can help you build a compelling case. So don’t wait. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you secure the justice and compensation you deserve.

      The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

      If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

      Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!