Preponderance of Evidence

Preponderance of evidence is one of two primary “standards of proof” which must be met by a claimant or plaintiff in a civil lawsuit like a personal injury claim in order to win the argument and receive any damages for injuries suffered.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is responsible for proving the injuries he or she suffered are in fact the responsibility of the defendant or that the defendant’s negligence is what led to the injuries.

The responsibility for proving a claim is called the “burden of proof” and in most personal injury lawsuits, the burden of proof falls to the claimant. There are however, some circumstances under which a burden of proof may be held by both the claimant or plaintiff and the defendant. These include civil lawsuits in which the defendant files a counter-claim against the plaintiff.

The preponderance of evidence, along with the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, are the two primary standards for proving assertions in a civil lawsuit. In criminal cases, there is a third standard that comes into play: “beyond a reasonable doubt”; however, in civil trials, this standard is rarely applied or required for winning a claim.

Of the two types of standards, the preponderance of evidence is the most common. It is only in claims that state laws deem weightier that the clear and convincing evidence standard is the norm. In some states, for example, clear and convincing evidence must be established in order to win a medical malpractice claim, while all other forms of personal injury lawsuits may fall under the preponderance of evidence standard instead.

In the preponderance of evidence standard, there is no clear cut definition of what burden of proof must be established to meet requirements. Instead, the definition is loosely described as enough evidence to make it likely that the facts as the claimant has described them are true. In other words, to meet the burden of proof in most personal injury lawsuits in most states, the plaintiff only needs to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable.