Do You Have the Jury on Your Side? Here are the facts about Burden of Proof!

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The reality is, it is extremely difficult for a plaintiff to prevail at trial. Your attorney will likely tell you, that, as a plaintiff, you have the burden of proving three elements in order for a jury to even consider awarding you damages. Think of it as a three-legged stool. If any one of the legs fail, the stool falls over and your case will most certainly fail. Those three elements are as follows:

Liability: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent or operated below a reasonable standard of care or otherwise committed wrongful behavior leading to plaintiff’s injuries.

Damages: Even once the plaintiff has proved the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff must also prove she has suffered injuries, damages or losses. For example, if a plaintiff were to say that a driver was negligently swerving all over the road and came within inches of striking the pedestrian plaintiff, there would rightfully be no case, because the plaintiff escaped injury and suffered no damages, despite the extreme negligence of the defendant.

Causation: Let’s assume you have proved liability and damages. Simply stated, causation is the link the plaintiff must prove connecting liability to damages. For example, if the plaintiff were to claim she suffered chronic back pain following an injury caused by the negligence of the defendant, but the plaintiff’s medical history indicated repeated complaints and treatment for chronic back pain before this incident, the defense would have a good argument that the plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof regarding causation. This is not an automatic game loser for the plaintiff, but it does make her case more difficult for obvious reasons.

 


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