Burden of Proof in Your Car Accident Claim

man on the phone calling for help after a car accident

Many people are familiar with the burden of proof in a criminal trial, the concept that prosecutors must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” However, civil cases are different. The burden of proof is lower. In a civil trial, such as a car accident injury claim, the plaintiffs must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. 

The result is that it may be easier than you think to pursue compensation if you have been injured in a car crash or some other accident that was someone else’s fault.

If you or a family member has been injured by someone who failed to obey traffic laws, was driving drunk or was driving recklessly, an attorney with Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer can review the details and discuss whether the facts of the accident meet the burden of proof required to pursue compensation for you. This is a free, no-obligation legal consultation. You can schedule your free consultation online or by phoning (877) 809-5352 today.

What Is Burden of Proof?

The phrase “burden of proof” refers to the standard that anyone making a claim in court must meet for the court to establish their allegation as legal fact.

The burden of proof in personal injury car accident claims and other civil cases is “a preponderance of the evidence.”

The injured plaintiff has the burden to gather and present evidence to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions caused harm and the defendant should pay compensation.

A Kentucky jury hearing a car accident case would be charged with deciding whether a preponderance of the evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the plaintiff’s allegations are true. Another way to look at a preponderance of the evidence is whether the evidence makes you believe the plaintiff with 51% certainty. If the jury decides in favor the plaintiff, the jury may then order the defendant to pay compensation.

You can see that the burden in civil cases is a lower burden than having to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case. But it’s still challenging to identify evidence and develop a compelling civil case. Our experienced car accident attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer have handled many personal injury cases over the years. We know the types of evidence to seek to build a persuasive case that meets the burden of proof in Kentucky.

 Elements of Negligence in a Car Accident Claim

In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff seeks to prove that the defendant’s negligence led to their injuries and losses. Negligence is a failure to act with the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances. After a car accident, the driver may have been negligent if he or she disobeyed traffic laws or drove recklessly and caused an accident as a result.

Proving negligence requires proof of:

  • A duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff
  • Breach of that duty
  • Injury to the plaintiff
  • Legal causation between the defendant’s breach and the plaintiff’s injury. 

Kentucky courts recognize a universal duty of care under which every person is obligated to others to exercise ordinary care to prevent foreseeable injuries. For example, an automobile driver has to use reasonable caution when driving to prevent car crashes. Whether the car driver has failed to fulfill his or her duty and caused harm as a result is a question for the jury to decide.

Harm is demonstrated by medical records describing injuries. Harm also includes financial injury and other “damages,” such as lost work time, loss of earning capacity, physical pain and mental suffering.

The plaintiff has to show that the defendant’s negligent behavior was a substantial factor in causing the harm the plaintiff suffered. Evidence must indicate that the negligent act is the probable cause of injury, not just a possible cause. 

Gathering Evidence to Support a Car Accident ClaimBroken cars after a collision

It is important to start promptly to investigate a car accident before witnesses forget what they saw, physical characteristics of the accident scene change or other physical evidence becomes lost.

Evidence of the defendant’s breach of duty might be obtained through:

  • Police report, including any criminal charges against the defendant
  • Witness statements, including from police and the defendant
  • Defendant’s cell phone records, which may show activity at the time of the crash indicating distracted driving
  • Debit or credit card records, which may show purchases of alcohol prior to the crash (potential driving under the influence) or sustained activity over a lengthy period
  • Security camera footage, which may show the crash or reckless driving prior to the crash.

Evidence of injury would include:

  • Plaintiff’s medical records, which may be forwarded to a consulting physician for review and interpretation
  • Doctors’ reports and/or testimony
  • Photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, roadside damage (guardrails, signs, landscape), and victim’s injuries (bruises, lacerations, cast on broken limb)
  • Bills and receipts for medical care, vehicle damage repairs and other costs connected to the accident
  • Work records indicating absences
  • Plaintiff statements about pain, medical care and recovery, setbacks, missed activities due to injuries, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

 Evidence of legal causation might include:

  • Police report, including any criminal charges against the defendant
  • Witness statements or testimony, including from the plaintiff, police, doctors and the defendant
  • Accident reconstruction specialist’s report and expert testimony.

Contact an Experienced KY Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been seriously injured by a negligent driver in Kentucky, let Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer car accident attorneys prepare a case that demands full compensation for your injuries and losses. We know how the burden of proof applies to car accident claims and how to build a solid case to support your claim. Our attorneys supply the Kentucky Courage to stand up to big insurance companies.

Get started today by contacting Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer at (877) 809-5352 or online to set up your free consultation.