In any injury case, the burden of proof falls on the victim. What does this mean exactly and what do victims have to do to meet this requirement?
Learn more about the burden of proof in an injury claim, including why it plays such a critical role in the success of your case.
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What is Meant By a Burden of Proof?
There are a lot of legal terms that get thrown around during an injury case. The burden of proof is one such term, and it is an important one to understand.
The burden of proof is the minimum requirement needed to establish the victim has a valid reason to seek compensation from the defendant’s insurance. To the jury it means that you have met the elements of negligence by presenting a preponderance of evidence.
What is Preponderance of Evidence?
Simply put, preponderance of evidence means more likely than not. In other words, there is a greater chance than not that your account of how the incident and your injury happened is the truth.
Ontario requires strong evidence in civil cases, such as a personal injury lawsuit. You must convince the Judge and Jury that your account of the incident is 50 per cent or more likely than not to be the truth.
Why Does the Burden of Proof Fall to Victims?
When seeking compensation for your damages, the burden of proof establishes the defendant’s negligence. If there is no negligence, then there is no case.
Some examples of accidents from negligence might include:
- Slipping on spilled liquids in a grocery store that the owner failed to clean up.
- A red light runner crashing into an approaching vehicle that had the right of way.
- Defective brakes that prevented the driver from being able to avoid hitting another vehicle.
- A lane-splitting motorcyclist (currently illegal in Canada) who collided with another vehicle.
- The drowsy driver of a commercial truck who nodded off at the wheel.
- And more
However, even in an accident where liability seems clear cut, it rarely is. This is why working with a solicitor to build a solid case can help to protect your legal interests.
What Evidence May Help To Establish the Burden of Proof?
In addition to victims giving a statement about the incident, other evidence from the accident scene can help victims to meet the burden of proof requirement.
For instance, following a collision with a distracted driver, evidence that could support your claim and provide burden of proof may include:
- The police or accident report
- Crash scene evidence, such as a lack of skid marks or other damages
- The location and extent of damage to the vehicles involved
- Witness statements
- Your medical records
- Cellphone records
- Event data recorder from the defendant’s vehicle
- Traffic or dash cam footage of the crash scene
Sometimes, the evidence alone may not be enough to establish the burden of proof. If certain facts about your case are not completely clear, your attorney may need to consult with an expert, such as a medical doctor or accident reconstruction specialist.
What is the Defendant’s Role in an Injury Case?
Disputing your evidence is the role of the defendant, or his or her lawyer. You can be sure that the other side will go to great measures to discredit you and your evidence. Insurance companies are very adept at finding ways to reduce what they have to pay out to victims on a claim.
One example might be if you suffered severe injuries in a slip and fall in a grocery store, but you did not seek medical treatment straight away. Failing to obtain medical care gives the insurance company and their policyholder room to argue he or she did not cause your injuries.
Even if you can prove the injuries happened because of their policyholder’s actions, it would be hard to prove they were anything more than minor. This is why, in addition to protecting your health, it is not a good idea to refuse medical care after an accident.
How Can Victims Meet the Burden of Proof in an Injury Claim?
It is difficult for victims to handle an injury claim without legal representation. This is why we strongly recommend seeking legal help after any accident where another party’s negligent actions caused you harm.
A qualified lawyer, who specialises in handling cases similar to yours, knows how to meet the burden of proof and build a solid case. It is also worth mentioning that the defendant will have a lawyer representing him or her. Having a knowledgeable lawyer representing you helps to level the legal playing field while ensuring there is someone looking out for your interests throughout the legal process.
In addition to gathering evidence, a lawyer can help you to meet the burden of proof by establishing that the defendant:
- Owed you, the injured victim, a duty of care
- Violated that duty of care in some way
- That breach of duty led to the accident and caused you harm
- But for that breached duty, you would not have been in an accident or injured
A distracted driver who drifted out of his or her lane of traffic and into your vehicle. Both the crash scene and vehicle damage would likely support your claim that the other driver was doing something else, like texting.
Need Legal Help After a Crash? Our Law Firm is Ready to Help
Our firm has been helping injury victims for decades, and we have recovered millions for our clients. There are no upfront costs or fees to pay if we represent you. Since we accept all of our injury claims on contingency, you only pay our fees if we win money for you.
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