Understanding the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Case in California
After you have been injured in a California car accident and faced with high medical bills and significant lost wages, you may want to recover compensation against the defendant or defendants. You may also want to recover compensation for pain and suffering too. After all, you are entitled to these damages under California law. These damages allow you to try to become as whole as possible after an accident due to the negligence of another person. But in order to recover these damages, you need to prove your case. Not just checking off the requirements for negligence to establish liability, but also to prove these damages by the “burden of proof.”
Here at the Broadway Law Firm, we know that all plaintiffs must establish their burden of proof in a car accident case in California. Even if a defendant has rear-ended you in an obvious case of their fault, if the defendant contests liability you will need to establish liability still against him or her. You will also need to prove your damages by the burden of proof. But most individuals do not know what the burden of proof is or how they can establish it. Others may have ideas what it is and how they could establish it, but that really should be left up to an experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles like one of ours.
What is a Burden of Proof?
In general, a burden of proof is just the amount of proof, evidence, testimony, and arguments needed to establish a confidence level that your claim or facts are convincing enough to prove your case. Think of the burden of proof as a threshold level. For example, if you can establish your claim by xx% of confidence, you will have proven that case.
The burden of proof can change depending on the type of claim you are making. The burden can also shift to the defendant to establish an affirmative defense.
Some common burdens of proof are beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence, and by a preponderance of the evidence.
Do I Have to Prove my Car Accident Case “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?”
This is by far the most commonly know type of burden of proof. It requires a 98-100% convincing rate that it is almost or absolutely certain that this occurred and your claim is correct. Most people have heard of it in a criminal context, such as the very public trials of Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, and now the George Floyd trials. Speeches such as the infamous one from Casey Anthony’s Jose Baez and the pounding of his chest “you got to know inside your heart” that she was absolutely guilty, leaves a deep impression on many people.
And a worried one if you had to prove this type of cause of action. Fortunately, you do not.
The burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is mostly for criminal matters that the prosecution must proof. There are rare civil causes of action that you’d need to establish this, but that is exceptionally rare and usually for elements of a claim and not the entire claim. Very few personal injury cases require this level of proof in any claim, even rare claims.
What do I Need to Proof my California Car Accident Case By?
Under California law, you need to prove your case “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that you need to establish that it is more likely than not that your claim is correct and the defendant is not. This is essentially a 51% amount of approval or convincing. That is not a high burden of proof and it is important to remember that. Not just for your claim, but also realize that the defense only needs to prove his or her case by 50%.
Yes, a defendant only needs to tie you by establishing a defense by 50% or less. That means that you really need to have an experienced car accident lawyer to establish your claim by over 51%, because if you fail to convince that it is more likely than not that your claim is correct, you will lose.
Do I Need to Prove Any Parts of my Case by Clear and Convincing Evidence?
Another common burden of proof is by “clear and convincing evidence.” This is somewhere between a preponderance of the evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt. However, it is unclear where it falls. Most commenters say about 75%, while some estimate it could be higher up to 80%. The legal definition as articulated in the famous case of Colorado v New Mexico is that it is evidence allows “the ultimate factfinder an abiding conviction that the truth of its factual contentions are ‘highly probable.’”
In a car accident case, clear and convincing evidence is only required to proof punitive damages against a defendant. It is rare that there are any other instances that require this type of burden in a civil context.
Injured in a California Car Accident? Ask Us for Help
If you or a loved one were injured in a California car accident, ask our experienced car accident lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm to prove your case. We offer FREE consultations and only get paid after you get paid in a settlement, court verdict, or arbitration award. Learn more how we can help you by calling 213.444.3155 or using our easy-to-use contact us box available by clicking the link here. All calls or messages are confidential. We are here to help