When you are injured in a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated for your expenses. Some of these cases are clear-cut. The other driver admits fault—or cannot deny fault due to charges filed by the police or other undeniable evidence—and his insurance company pays the claim without question. Often, however, the at-fault driver or his insurance company denies he was at fault or claims that fault was shared by more than one party. In these cases, you will need to provide evidence showing that he was at fault and should be held accountable for your expenses. Because this is a civil claim, however, the burden of proof you must meet is lower than that of a criminal charge. We explain burden of proof here.
What Is Burden of Proof?
You may have heard the term “burden of proof” on a legal drama or in a detective novel, but you may not fully understand what it means. You have probably also heard the legal phrase, “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is his burden of proof. If you look at the burden of proof in terms of percentage, beyond a reasonable doubt means that jurors are 99 percent sure of the accused’s guilt. This is a high burden to meet, as it should be when determining guilt in a criminal case. However, in a civil case, the burden of proof is much lower. In a car accident claim, for example, the burden of proof is on the injured party, who must show the other driver’s guilt beyond a preponderance of the evidence. This means that it is more likely than not that the other driver is negligent. In other words, the judge or jury must be convinced that the chance the plaintiff’s facts are true is at least 51 percent. This is a far lower standard than the 99 percent burden in a criminal trial, but it is still not always easy to meet.
Settlement vs. Trial
Many car accident cases can be settled out of court. If you are the injured victim of a car crash, your first move should be to secure an experienced car crash attorney, who will begin settlement negotiations with the other party’s insurance company. In order to get the maximum available compensation, your attorney will need to provide evidence of the other driver’s guilt, but this evidence does not have to be certified or verified at this point. Simple copies of police reports, witness statements, and photos of the scene of the crash can be shown to the insurance adjuster in an informal setting and may be enough to convince the insurance company to pay up. However, if your attorney cannot convince the adjuster to provide a reasonable settlement, he may have to take the case to trial. It is at this point that he will have to prove the other driver’s negligence rather than simply showing his negligence. He will do this by formally entering the proof he has gathered into evidence. This proof will include:
- Medical reports
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Crash scene photos and diagrams
- Lost wages statements
With this evidence, your attorney must convince the judge or jury that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the defendant caused you harm and should be held responsible. He will then have met his burden of proof and the court will find in your favor and award you the compensation you deserve.
Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.