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Burden of Proof in Illinois Personal Injury Cases

Posted on July 16, 2013 in
Duncan Law Group |

Victims and families who have suffered damages at the hands of another individual or corporation have the legal right to file personal injury claims to hold the at-fault parties liable for their losses. In order to prove their side of the story, victims (plaintiffs) – or their attorneys – must present a certain standard of evidence known as the burden of proof. As plaintiffs are bringing these legal actions, the burden of proof becomes their responsibility.

Proving that another is at fault for causing an accident and / or injury is not always a simple feat. Within the legal system, there exists different types of standards that must be proven in order for a jury or judge to rule in favor of one party or the other. Most personal injury cases and mass tort claims – such as asbestos / mesothelioma claims – will require an injured victim to prove a legal standard known as preponderance of the evidence. As a burden of proof, preponderance of the evidence requires juries or judges to rule in favor of the greater weight of evidence.

Understanding Burden of Proof in Illinois

Understanding preponderance of the evidence may be easier when you compare it to other burdens of proof in our legal system: clear and convincing evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt. Preponderance of the evidence requires injured plaintiffs to support their story with stronger evidence than the defendant has to support their case and that their story is more likely to be true than not. If successful in proving this, victims may be entitled to compensation, even if the margin of their evidence against the defendant’s was narrow. With clear and convincing evidence, however, plaintiffs in certain civil cases must prove that their case is substantially “more likely than not,” a slightly higher burden of proof. Beyond a reasonable doubt, on the other hand, is the highest standard of evidence and is used in criminal cases. This standard requires prosecutors to prove that defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is no doubt, or if doubts are unreasonable, juries and judges should pronounce a defendant guilty.

In personal injury cases, proving that the defendant is responsible for a victim’s injury is often the most important legal element. In order to prove that a defendant is at fault, plaintiffs should work with a Chicago personal injury attorney who has the ability and resources to conduct thorough investigations, secure the necessary evidence, and present this evidence strongly and in your favor. When this standard of proof is met, attorneys will then focus on demonstrating the extent of a victim’s injuries so that full and fair compensation can be obtained. If you would like to learn more about the ways in which a Chicago attorney from the firm can help you establish another’s fault and liability during a personal injury claim, contact Duncan Law Group today.