New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
What is the Preponderance of Evidence?
Posted on Jun 3, 2014 in Legal Terminology
On behalf of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP
In lawsuits, civil cases or administrative hearings, it is important for a part to prove its position or claim by preponderance. Preponderance is actually defined as superiority in force, weight, and importance. Preponderance of evidence in legal terms means that a party has shown that its version of causes, facts, fault, or damages are most likely not the correct version. This is especially the case where breach of contract or personal injury suits are concerned. It is easy to meet this standard and it applies to all civil cases, unless the law states otherwise.
Say for instance, if an injured person sues a company or another person in a personal injury lawsuit, it is up to that injured person to prove that the company or person being sued is in fact legally responsible for any injuries caused. However, it is not necessary for the injured person to prove this beyond any chance of a doubt. All the plaintiff or injured person has to be able to do is prove that the defendant is “more likely than not” responsible for any injuries caused. Therefore, a preponderance of the evidence is basically one more way of saying that something is “more likely than not’ true.
Winning a case based on preponderance
The plaintiff or injured person must be able to prove that the events in their case have “more likely than not” taken place in the manner that they have claimed it did, as opposed to how the defendant claimed it to have happened, in order to win a case.
Having said that, there is no set formula to establish if an injured person or plaintiff has met their burden of proof. It is only after all the evidence is heard by a jury or a judge if the case is a bench trial, that it is determined that the plaintiff has been successful in proving whether their version of the case is “more likely than not” the one that actually occurred.
It is important that a plaintiff be able to prove that every element of their claim against the defendant “more likely than not” took place, for them to be able to prove that the defendant is liable to the plaintiff for damages.
For instance, a plaintiff must be able to prove all four elements of negligence if they have sued a defendant for such a thing, like the defendant had a duty towards the plaintiff; that the defendant breached that specified duty; that the breach in question caused the injury of the plaintiff; and that monetary damages will compensate the plaintiff for the injury caused. The plaintiff will not be able to win the case in court if they aren’t able to prove that each of these “more likely than not” occurred.
Preponderance is a tricky concept to include in a case or a claim and that is why it is imperative for every plaintiff to seek out the services of a qualified attorney who can assist them in making their case and acquiring the compensation they deserve.