DISCLAIMER: Not legal advice. For informational purposes only.
WHAT IS THE PLAINTIFF’S BURDEN OF PROOF IN A PREMISES LIABILITY CASE?
In a civil trial, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof, which means that the plaintiff must prove the facts in the case by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., the greater weight of the evidence, that it is more likely than not that the fact is true). The defendant does not have to prove that he or she is not liable, rather the burden is on the plaintiff. The degree of proof required in a civil case is far less strict than in a criminal case, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt” (i.e. the judge or jury must be absolutely convinced of the Defendant’s criminal liability). In order for the Plaintiff to succeed at trial in a civil case, the plaintiff’s case must be more believable than the defendant’s case. The amount of evidence is not controlling, rather the side with the more believable evidence satisfies the civil standard of proof “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
The “burden of proof” is what you must prove in order to receive compensation for a premises liability claim. The plaintiff bears the burden to prove that each fact is more likely true than not - that the factual story presented by the plaintiff’s attorney is slightly more believable to the jury than the defendant’s version of facts, that is 50.1% versus 49.9% more likely.
In order to win a premises liability case, the plaintiff must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence three basic elements:
(1) that the party responsible for the premises had or should have had knowledge of the dangerous condition;
(2) that the responsible party failed to fix or provide adequate caution of the dangerous condition; and
(3) that the dangerous condition resulted in the injury.
The plaintiff also bears the burden to prove its damages are more likely so than not to be incurred.
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