What is the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case in Massachusetts?
After being injured in an accident, you might wonder what evidence is needed to negotiate a fair settlement or be awarded compensation at trial. The responsibility to provide sufficient evidence to prove your case is known as the burden of proof. If your evidence does not meet the burden of proof, you will lose your personal injury case.
Personal injury cases in Massachusetts use the preponderance of the evidence standard. This means that your evidence only needs to show that your version of the accident is more likely than not to have occurred. While this is not the highest burden of proof in the law, it is still important to work with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to help you gather important evidence to support your story.
For a free review of your personal injury case, call the Massachusetts personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan. Our phone number is (617) 925-6407.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case?
The burden of proof is the obligation to prove a case using relevant evidence. It is a legal rule that helps judges and juries weigh the evidence of a particular case to determine the outcome of a trial. In a Massachusetts personal injury case, a plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that your evidence must prove that the claims in your personal injury lawsuit are more likely than not to be true. Put simply, if the judge or jury believes that your side of the story is more than 50% true, you should your personal injury lawsuit.
The preponderance of the evidence standard should not be confused with the beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard used in criminal proceedings. Most people have at least heard of the concept of beyond a reasonable doubt, but this guideline is used to find a defendant guilty in a criminal trial and is seldom used in civil personal injury cases. The more-likely-than-not rule used in Massachusetts personal injury cases has a much lower burden to prove your case than beyond a reasonable doubt.
While the burden of proof in a civil trial is lower than in a criminal trial, that does not mean that personal injury cases are easy to prove. The preponderance of the evidence is a low bar, but you could still benefit in many ways from the insights of an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney. Collecting evidence to meet the burden of proof is a challenging process, and a personal injury lawsuit can be lost if a significant piece of evidence is overlooked. If an insurance company represents the defendant in your case, they will likely hire defense lawyers, experts, or investigators to fight your claim. Our Cambridge personal injury attorneys can use their knowledge of the litigation process to help get the evidence you need.
What Do You Need to Prove in a Massachusetts Personal Injury Case?
Most personal injury cases are the result of either negligence or an intentional harmful act. Fortunately, the preponderance of the evidence standard is used in both types. However, what elements you will need to prove for each kind of case are quite different. Our Malden personal injury attorneys can help you regardless of the type of personal injury case you have.
When you are injured because of the carelessness or recklessness of another person, like in a car accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for negligence. To win your negligence lawsuit, your will need to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, causing your injuries. Negligence cases typically involve insurance companies, which can make obtaining the necessary evidence to prove your personal injury case much more daunting.
Intentional Tort Cases
Intentional torts are a category of personal injury cases that result from the intentional harmful act of another person. There are many types of intentional torts that people might commit, including battery, assault, and false imprisonment. If someone intentionally harmed you, you can file a personal injury case against them.
To meet the burden of proof in a tort lawsuit, you will need to prove that the defendant intended the act that caused your injuries. Keep in mind, though, that you are not required to prove that the defendant intended the injuries you suffered, only that they intended the act that caused them. For example, say an unprovoked person intentionally punches someone, intending only to give them a black eye, but the victim suffers a concussion. The victim can sue for battery and win if they can prove the defendant intended to throw the punch. Whatever damage the defendant intended to cause is irrelevant.
How to Meet the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case in Massachusetts
To make a strong personal injury case in court, your attorney will submit evidence to corroborate your testimony about the incident. Several different types of evidence must usually be presented to satisfy the burden of proof in your personal injury lawsuit. The following are examples of some of the most common types of evidence our Wakefield personal injury lawyer will use:
- Accident reports
- Company reports
- Witness testimony
- Physical evidence from the scene
- Photos of the scene
- Surveillance footage
- Maintenance reports
This evidence can come from numerous sources. Some pieces of evidence might be relatively easy to get, like accident reports. Other types can be much more challenging to obtain, like surveillance footage. Without the help of our Haverhill, MA personal injury lawyers, important evidence that your case will need to rely on could go missing or be destroyed.
If You Suffered a Personal Injury in Massachusetts, Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you have been the victim of a personal injury, our Quincy personal injury attorneys are ready to provide you with a free case assessment. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.