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What Is The Burden Of Proof Under Georgia State Law?

Posted in Personal Injury on June 24, 2020

Any time a person is injured because of the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of someone else, there may be a need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. However, in order for a case to be successful, a plaintiff will need to prove that the other party was liable for the incident. The term “burden of proof” is something most people hear about in criminal cases, but this also applies to every type of personal injury claim as well.

GA burden of proof

What are the different levels of burden of proof?

There are varying levels of burdens of proof used in both criminal and civil cases. You may have heard the following phrases used before:

Beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is the standard that applies in criminal cases because it needs to be absolutely clear that the person charged actually committed the crime. This high standard never applies to civil cases.

Preponderance of evidence.

In most civil cases, this is the burden of proof that will apply. At this level, it is required that you prove that it was “more likely than not” that the victim in the case met all of the required elements. The standard means at the jury is 51% sure at the victim (plaintiff) proved the elements of the case.

Clear and convincing evidence.

In some cases, a higher standard of proof will apply. Clear and convincing evidence lies somewhere between the first two burdens of proof on this list.

What burden of proof is required in Georgia?

In Georgia, a person who sustains a personal injury needs to prove every element of their case by a “preponderance of evidence.”

When working to prove a preponderance of evidence, the plaintiff or their attorney needs to show that facts of the case they are presenting are “more likely than not” to be true. For a moment, let us use a traffic collision as an example. The victim traffic collision will need to show a jury that:

  • The other driver was “more likely than not” at fault for the incident, and
  • The injuries that the plaintiff received were “more likely than not” caused by the collision

What if the plaintiff was partially at fault?

In many cases, the defendant in a personal injury claim will try to blame the plaintiff for the incident. While this may be a tactic used to limit their liability, it is important to point out that victims of personal injuries can still recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for the incident.

Under Georgia Code Section 51-12-33, we can see that any person found to be less than 50% responsible for an accident is entitled to recover compensation for their injuries. However, the total amount the compensation they are awarded will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $10,000 in damages for their injuries but were found to be 20% at fault for the incident, they will only receive $8,000 in total compensation.

What kind of compensation is available for these claims?

In the aftermath of sustaining a personal injury in Atlanta, injury victims may be entitled to various types of compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance carrier. This can include coverage of their medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering damages, as well as possible punitive damages against the negligent party.

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