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A Closer Look At The Burden Of Proof

A Closer Look At The Burden Of ProofDue to its large population of more than 19.5 million, Florida is home to plenty of accidents. They occur every day, and when you’re injured in an accident that isn’t your fault, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your injuries. When it comes to any kind of Florida personal injury law case, you’ll likely notice one term being used on a regular basis whether it’s a slip and fall injury, an auto accident, a workplace, or something else entirely – the Burden of Proof.

Understanding the burden of proof – what it means, why it’s important, and how it’s proven – is incredibly important for anyone involved in a personal injury case. First, it’s worth taking a look at the basic definition of burden of proof.

In any personal injury case, any settlement comes down to determining who is at fault. Plaintiffs are trying to prove that the defendant was at fault, while the defendant is trying to prove either that the plaintiff themselves were actually to blame, or at the very least that they (the defendant) isn’t at fault. Burden of proof refers to who needs to supply evidence supporting their claim. It’s kind of like the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ rule of criminal law – in those cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. They have to prove that the defendant is guilty, so the burden of proof is on their shoulders.

In a personal injury case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. They have to prove that the other party is responsible for their injuries and that they deserve the settlement amount they are seeking. This surprises many people, mainly because most plaintiffs are going up against insurance companies or other entities with more financial and legal resources than they have. But there are valid reasons that the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. The key reasons are:

• Juries simply don’t like insurance companies. It’s a common theme throughout the country, and as such making insurance companies shoulder the burden of proof would be unfair.

• Juries are also much more sympathetic to their peers. They see themselves in the plaintiff, and view the case as being a kind of ‘David and Goliath’ battle. This sets the defendant in an unfair situation.

Because of this, it makes sense that for most cases, the burden of proof is on the shoulders of the plaintiff. However, there is an exception, set in 2012 during Voort v. Universal Prop and Cas. Insurance Company.

Under this new precedent, insurance policyholders do still have to prove that a claim falls within the bounds of a policy’s terms. If they can do this – usually a straightforward matter – the burden of proof then shifts to the insurance company. In these cases, they have to prove that the claim isn’t valid and that they shouldn’t pay.

That can sound confusing, we know. Here’s a better way to look at it. In most personal injury cases, you’ll have to prove that your injuries were sustained due to the recklessness or negligence of the other party. But if you’re seeking financial compensation from an insurance company and can show that your claim falls within the terms of your policy, it’s up to the insurance company to prove that they don’t need to pay you.

The easiest way to avoid all the confusion surrounding burden of proof is simply to find a good personal injury attorney and allow them to help you with your case. Our team has more than 100 years’ experience in the personal injury field, and we can quickly help you determine your rights and where the burden of proof lies. Contact us for your free consultation today.

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

A Closer Look At The Burden Of Proof

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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