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Burden of Proof

In a personal injury claim, the parties may dispute several facts. The burden of proof in a personal injury case refers to the standard a party must meet to prove the allegations they claim to be facts. Jurors decide whether a party meets their burden of proof in court. 

Who Has the Burden of Proof in a New York Personal Injury Case?

When another party injures you, you could recover compensation for damages. However, you have the burden of proving the legal elements required to establish fault and liability. The burden of proof standard in a Bronx personal injury case is by a preponderance of the evidence. 

What Different Burden of Proof Standards Are There?

There are several standards for the burden of proof. The standard a party must meet depends on the type of case.

For example, in a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the defendant committed the alleged crime. The burden of proof in criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the highest standard of proof because the person could be deprived of their life and liberty.

The burden of proof in a civil case is not as high. The law requires you to prove the elements of a personal injury case by a preponderance of the evidence. The jurors must believe the evidence proves there is more than a 50% chance that your allegations are true.

A preponderance of the evidence is sufficient to prove your case for compensatory damages. Those damages include economic and non-economic damages. However, the burden of proof is higher for punitive damages.

Because punitive damages “punish” the defendant, they require a higher level of proof than compensatory damages. Therefore, the jury must find evidence to support an award of punitive damages by clear and convincing evidence. This level of proof is between a preponderance and beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Clear and convincing evidence proves it is highly more likely that the allegations are truer than untrue. There could still be some doubt, but not as much as you could have with a preponderance of the evidence. 

Shifting the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case

The injured party (the plaintiff) has the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence to win their case:

However, if the plaintiff alleges negligence per se, it creates a rebuttable assumption the defendant (at-fault party) acted negligently. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant broke the law while causing the injury. The law must relate to the cause of the injury and carry criminal penalties. 

If so, the defendant has the burden of proving they were not negligent. The same level of proof applies in a negligence per se case. The defendant only needs to prove they were not negligent by a preponderance of the evidence. 

What Types of Evidence Are Used in Bronx Personal Injury Cases?

An injured party might use physical evidence, testimony, and documentary evidence. There could be other types of evidence, depending on the facts of the case.

Examples of evidence in a personal injury case include, but are not limited to:

  • Copies of police reports and accident reports
  • Statements made by eyewitnesses 
  • Testimony from the parties in the case
  • Copies of medical records 
  • Evidence of economic damages, including out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and medical bills
  • Photographic and video evidence
  • Testimony and opinions from accident reconstructionists, medical specialists, financial professionals, and other expert witnesses
  • Physical evidence from the accident scene

The New York Rules of Evidence govern how evidence is presented in court. Parties may file motions to prevent evidence from being used in court. Then, the judge decides whether the law allows the evidence to be presented at trial.

Steps You Can Take To Help Build a Strong Case for Personal Injury Damages

A personal injury lawyer can conduct an independent investigation of your claim to gather evidence. However, there are also steps you can take on your own to help build your case.

For example, ask bystanders and eyewitnesses for their names and contact numbers after an injury or accident. Your attorney will want to interview them.

Try to take photos and make a video of the accident scene. For example, if you are involved in a car accident, make a video and take pictures of the vehicle and the surrounding area. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, document the hazard that caused you to fall.

During your recovery, keep detailed records of expenses. Keep copies of bills, invoices, and receipts. Your attorney might also ask you to keep a journal providing details of the pain and suffering you experience because of your injury. 

Contact Us for a Free Consultation With a Bronx Personal Injury Lawyer

Proving your personal injury case in court can be challenging. We can help. Contact our law firm Oresky & Associates, PLLC at (718) 993-9999 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Bronx personal injury attorneys.

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