What is the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case in Pennsylvania?
The burden of proof refers to the responsibility victims have to prove negligence in injury claims in Pennsylvania.
In personal injury lawsuits and other civil claims, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff, or the person who filed the lawsuit. It will become your responsibility to then meet the standard of proof, which, in civil claims, is typically a preponderance of the evidence. What this means is that you will be tasked with proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant harmed you. To meet this standard of proof, you must establish four elements. The first is that the defendant owed you a duty of care. The second is that the defendant breached that duty of care. The third is that the breach itself caused your injuries, and the fourth is that you incurred real damages related to those injuries. We can do this by submitting various types of evidence, including but not limited to eyewitness statements, photos, videos, expert testimony, medical records, and proof of your damages.
Call our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at (215) 709-6940 to discuss your case for free with The Reiff Law Firm.
The Burden of Proof in Personal Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
When you file a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania, the burden of proof is on you, the plaintiff, to show that the defendant’s negligence directly caused your injuries.
The burden of proof refers to which party involved in a case is responsible for proving fault. For example, in criminal cases, the burden is on the state or jurisdiction that is prosecuting the defendant. Similarly, in civil cases, the burden is on the one who brings the case, which would be the plaintiff.
The standard of proof is a separate thing altogether. This refers to the degree to which a party must prove fault. In Pennsylvania, civil plaintiffs are often held to a preponderance of the evidence standard. This means that the plaintiff is tasked with proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused their injuries. That is to say, you will not have to prove that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is at fault as you might in a criminal case, but you will have to convince a jury of their negligence through evidence. So, in short, it will be your responsibility to prove that the person you filed a personal injury claim against is most likely to blame for your injuries and damages in Pennsylvania.
Because the burden is on you and not the defendant, the defendant’s sole aim will be to poke holes in your case or submit evidence that undermines our arguments. To counteract those efforts and prevent Pennsylvania’s modified comparative fault statute from impacting your recovery, our attorneys will work to uncover and submit convincing evidence of the defendant’s fault.
Meeting the Burden of Proof Standard in Personal Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
Because the burden of proof is on you as the victim, it will be important for you to start building a case that meets the applicable standard of proof immediately after you are injured. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can explain the four elements you must prove to win your case and help you do so. These elements include duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and real damages.
Proving Duty of Care and Breach of Duty of Care
The first two elements that must be present in order for you to fulfill your responsibility regarding the burden of proof are duty of care and breach of duty of care. Essentially, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. For example, if a driver injured you, that means that the driver would have owed you a duty of care to follow traffic laws at the time. Duties of care differ depending on the relationships between victims and the negligent parties at the time of accidents in Pennsylvania.
After establishing that the defendant owed you a duty of care, you must prove that they breached their duty of care. This will be how they acted negligently. For example, suppose you were hurt because of a hazard on someone else’s property. In that case, we might use eyewitness statements to confirm that fact, highlighting that the defendant breached their duty of care by poorly maintaining their property.
Proving Causation and Real Damages
The next step will be proving causation and real damages. Causation is one of the hardest and most important aspects of proving a personal injury claim, as it is the link between the defendant’s negligent act and your injuries. This means that you have to show the jury that you were hurt specifically because of the defendant’s actions, not some other accident. We can do this by presenting evidence, such as surveillance footage or eyewitness statements, that confirms that the negligent act directly caused your physical injuries. If you do not successfully prove causation, or another element of your personal injury lawsuit for that matter, you will be unable to claim damages of any kind in Pennsylvania.
Proving damages will be your final burden. Essentially, we must prove that you incurred real damages as a result of the negligent act in question. To do this, be sure to keep all records and documentation regarding your medical treatment and medical expenses. If you have missed out on income because of the accident, report that to our attorneys as well. We can submit such information and documentation as proof of your damages, enabling you to recover compensation for both financial and non-financial losses in Pennsylvania.
Call Our Pennsylvania Lawyers About Your Injury Case
You can call The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to set up a confidential and free case evaluation from our Delaware County personal injury lawyers.