What Do I Need To Win My Personal Injury Case In Court?
In a civil case, the party seeking relief -which in the typical civil case is monetary relief, compensation or money damages- bears the burden of proving their case to a judge or a jury. In other words, it is the responsibility and obligation of the plaintiff to show that all of the elements of their claim have been shown, and they are entitled to relief in the form of compensation for their injuries.
It is sometimes said that the plaintiff in a personal injury case has the obligation to not only produce evidence that they were injured by the fault of another and that they suffered damage as a result, but that the plaintiff also has the burden of persuading the judge or the jury they were in fact injured at the hands of another through no fault of their own and that they suffered cognizable, objectively verifiable, injury as a result of the actions of another.
This latter concept is sometimes referred to as the burden of persuasion. The test is whether the case strong enough to persuade the jury or judge that an accident and resulting injury the way the plaintiff said it did. The standard, the measure, or the yardstick for how convincing that proof must be is “ponderance of the evidence standard”. What is called for here is for the judge or jury to determine that it is more likely, or more probable, than unlikely or improbable that the plaintiff’s version of events is the correct one. It's sometimes expressed as a numerical percentage of 51% more likely so than not. If met, it is sufficient to carry the day in court. Other types of cases have much higher standards when it comes to the burden of proof. In a criminal case, a jury must be persuaded beyond any reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty. Generally, in order for a court to award punitive damages, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiff is entitled. The burden in the typical civil case, however, is substantially lower. It is simply “more likely, as opposed to less likely” and “more likely” by a very small amount i.e. 2%.
The law would require that, if it is 49% likely that the defendant is correct in their legal position and 51% likely that a plaintiff is correct in their legal position, although the relative likelihoods are very, very close, separated by only a fraction, that break down means that the plaintiff has carried the day, and wins their case. Despite this relatively low burden of proof in the typical civil case, it shocks some people to learn that thousands of Maryland automobile accident claims are denied by courts in this state every year, with a ruling that the plaintiff has “failed to carry the burden of proof.”