What is the “Burden of Proof” In a Lawsuit?

All legal cases – both civil and criminal – require certain evidence and thresholds be met before a decision can be made about guilt, innocence, or liability. This is called the “burden of proof”. In civil lawsuits, such as personal injury claims, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff, who is the victim or a loved one or representative.

What is the Burden of Proof?

The burden of proof relates to the amount and quality of evidence that you have to prove the claims you have made in a lawsuit. For example, if you were injured in an auto accident, it is your burden to prove that the other driver was at fault. This can be accomplished by gathering police reports, interviewing witnesses, showing photographs, and considering whether or not anyone was cited by police.

What About the Defendant?

In civil lawsuits, the defendant does not have to prove anything. They simply must counter the evidence that you have presented. They can do this by presenting their own evidence. The court can then determine if you have presented enough quality evidence to prove your case. If so, they may rule in your favor. If not, then the defendant may have a chance of avoiding liability.

Preparing for Trial

Because you, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proof, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney prior to filing a lawsuit. Preparing for trial can take time, and it is beneficial to have the skills and resources of an attorney on your side. A skilled trial attorney can help you build your case, gather quality evidence, and prove your claims.