Burden of Proof in Civil Cases like Personal Injury
The burden of proof in civil cases like personal injury cases lies on the person filing the case. This means that the plaintiff has the burden of proof to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence caused his injuries.
Elements of the Burden of Proof in Civil CasesA court in Colorado will require the plaintiff filing a civil lawsuit against a defendant to prove that all the elements of a civil lawsuit exist. To be successful in a civil lawsuit, there are four elements that any plaintiff must prove. These elements are as follows.
- duty of care (for instance, the defendant had the duty to operate a vehicle to avoid injury risks to others).
- breach of duty (the defendant breached the duty of care).
- causation (the defendant's breach of duty was the cause of the accident).
- injury (the accident caused personal injury and damages to the plaintiff).
Burden of Proof in Civil Cases vs. Criminal CasesIn a civil case, unlike in a criminal action, a plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant was negligent beyond a reasonable doubt or that the facts presented as evidence are complete proof of the defendant's negligence.
However, the burden is on the plaintiff to convince that the facts are "more likely than not" what he or she claims to be true. That is, that the defendant is more likely than not negligent and liable for injuries. The defendant can present evidence to the contrary as well.
Affirmative Defense in Personal Injury CasesIn some cases, a defendant may present an affirmative defense. In an affirmative defense, the defendant may claim that the statute of limitations has expired or that the court does not have jurisdiction over the claim, or that the plaintiff has no legal right to file the claim. These defenses don't necessarily dispute that the claimant's or plaintiff's case is not true, but rather that the defendant is not liable.
For instance, if the injury occurred while playing a sport, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was aware of the injury risks of playing the sport, and sustained unavoidable injuries while playing the sport. In other words, the defendant may claim that the plaintiff understood what the injury risks were, but assumed the risk anyway.
Defendant Burden of Proof in Civil Cases to Prove Comparative NegligenceThe defendant may try to prove that the plaintiff was partly responsible for the injuries. For instance, in an accident involving a pedestrian walking alone at night on a dark road wearing black clothing, the defendant may claim that the pedestrian was partly responsible for the accident because of his failure to take safety precautions while walking at night.
In such cases, it may lower the damages by the extent of the pedestrian's comparative negligence. If the pedestrian is 20 percent to blame, it may lower the damages by 20 percent. If a plaintiff is more than 49 percent liable in Colorado, the state bars him or her from recovery.
The burden of proof definition is the same to establish comparative negligence as it is for the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent and is liable for injuries.