To recover the full and fair compensation that you deserve through a personal injury claim in California, you must be able to prove that a defendant is liable for your accident. This raises an important question: What is the burden of proof in a California personal injury claim? It is not the “reasonable doubt” standard that applies to criminal cases. Instead, it is a less strict “preponderance of evidence” or “more likely than not” standard. Here, our Stockton personal injury attorney explains the key things that you should understand about the burden of proof in a personal injury claim in California.
Preponderance of Evidence
Most personal injury claims in California fall under the preponderance of evidence standard for the burden of proof. This is an easier hurdle to clear than is the alternative legal standard of “clear and convincing evidence” and “reasonable doubt.”As stated clearly in the California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 200, the preponderance of the evidence can be viewed as a requirement for plaintiffs to prove that their claim is “more likely to be true than not true.”
California is a Comparative Negligence State
Under California state law, most personal injury claims are subject to the comparative negligence (comparative fault) legal standard. Each party to an accident—including the victim—will bear liability for their share of the blame. In many cases, defendants and insurers try to push some of the faults onto the victim to reduce their own financial culpability. For example, imagine that you sustained $22,000 of damages in a slip and fall accident in Stockton. If you were found at fault for 10 percent of your own slip and fall, your personal injury compensation would also be reduced by 10 percent due to comparative negligence—from $22,000 to $19,800.
You Must Also Prove the Extent of Your Damages
Proving fault in a personal injury case is crucial to establishing liability—but it is not sufficient to help you recover full and fair financial compensation. An injured victim also must provide evidence that proves the extent of their damages. For the most part, personal injury damages—from medical bills to lost wages to pain and suffering—are designed to be compensatory in California. In other words, you must tie your damages to actual economic and non-economic harm that you suffered because of the defendant’s negligent actions or inactions.
Contact Our Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, we have secured more than $25 million in compensation for victims and their loved ones. Our attorneys are standing by, ready to investigate your accident and father all of the evidence that you need to prove fault. Get in touch with us by phone or contact us online to set up your free case review. With the main office in Stockton, we provide results-driven personal injury representation in the San Joaquin Valley and throughout all of Central California.