What is Preponderance of Evidence?
Over the years we’ve had clients ask us hundreds of questions but the one that seems to be asked with some confusion is “what is preponderance of evidence”? It’s a phrase that gets mixed up a bit with “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
First and foremost, the terms are dependent on the type of case being tried. If it’s a civil case we would use the term “preponderance of evidence” and if it’s a criminal case then the term “beyond reasonable doubt” is used. Two different scenarios, two different answers.
Typically, when an injury occurs such as a car accident the injured party (called the plaintiff) will file a civil complaint against another person, business, corporation or government agency (called the defendant). The plaintiff will allege the defendant acted carelessly. Here is where the term “preponderance of evidence” is used. But what does it really mean?
Simply…it’s the amount of evidence a plaintiff needs to win a civil case. A preponderance of evidence means that the proof you present must weigh heavier or be more convincing in comparison to the evidence offered by the other side. To win by a preponderance of evidence, the proof presented must simply tip the scales in the plaintiff’s favor, compared to the burden of proof standard set in criminal cases, which must be “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
So why do I share this? Why is it important for you to know these terms?
Hi, I’m David Holub a personal injury attorney and I represent people injured in Indiana (and in some special cases people injured in Illinois) and I share this information to give you an insight and an understanding into what goes on during a legal proceedings and the words and phrases that might be used during your case.
But just because you have “some evidence” on your side doesn’t always mean you have a case worthy of being filed in court. Before an attorney even agrees to represent you, he or she will first want to hear the story of what happened, and investigate the circumstances of what happened by contacting witnesses, examining the scene, examining photos and doing other things to test that the case has validity. A capable lawyer will want to understand the facts surrounding your claim. When we meet with you our professional and courteous lawyers and paralegals will ask questions which will help determine if the case should proceed. Questions designed to discover:
What evidence you have, or might be available from other sources, to support your claim?
Are there witnesses to corroborate your story and/or discredit what the other party says?
Are you disabled or unable to return to work as a result of the incident?
What medical expenses have you incurred in relation to your injuries?
Have you been contacted by an insurance company?
Did you sign any insurance company papers releasing your right to sue?
The stronger the evidence the better the chance of a positive outcome. Though a jury evaluates a case against the preponderance of evidence standard, the goal of our team, from the moment of initial contact forward, is to gather the evidence available in support of your claim, and to know the evidence that will be used by your opponent to contest your claim. You see, we need and want to know the good, bad and ugly about each case we take to court. Knowing that the term “preponderance of the evidence” means “Evidence that convinces you that something is more probably true than not true” should help you understand that it is essential for your attorney to know all the facts about your case. For example, if a potential client is seriously injured because another driver runs a red light, and there are 10 witnesses that the other driver is at fault, it still is important to know if that client was the get away driver for a bank robbery at the time of the crash. Or, suppose the innocent driver with the right of way is on their way home from the hospital after having been in another crash. Important fact to know right in trying to sort out what injuries fit with what crash. As the police officers in the classic show Dragnet used to say “just the facts ma’am, we just need to know the facts.”
So, if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident or sustained a work place injury and it happened in Indiana call our office today at (219)736-9700 we will thoroughly review you case and decide with you whether your evidence has enough evidence to move forward.