Many people are confused about the burden of proof when someone brings a lawsuit for an injury in New Jersey. A person who is bringing a lawsuit is called a plaintiff. The person or company that is being sued in called a defendant. Generally, a plaintiff bears the burden of producing facts (evidence) that show that the defendant acted improperly (negligently or intentionally) that caused harm (injury or death) to the plaintiff. Unlike a criminal case where the state must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, a civil plaintiff only needs to show a defendant’s wrongful act substantially contributed to his/her harm by a “preponderance of the evidence”.
There are many ways that a person can establish the burden of proof in a civil case. We have learned, through years of trial experience and “focus group” studies conducted at our office that a person bringing a lawsuit must be honest and forthright — in other words “credible”. The same must be said of any witnesses who testify, whether on the issue of fault or harms and injuries. We have found that jurors take their jobs seriously, and excellent, especially as group, at judging the character and credibility of witnesses. Often, photographs, x-rays and MRI images, along with credible medical testimony is an important factor used by jurors when deciding the facts of a case. At the end of the day, we believe that jurors decide cases based on universal, human connections — the believability of witness testimony, physical evidence that “fits” with the plaintiff’s allegations, and showing credible facts that make good common sense.
At Shebell & Shebell, we strive to present our cases in a logical, fact-based way that just makes sense. By working with focus groups before we try our cases to juries, we are better able to understand what facts are important for a jury to understand and whether our attorneys are using credible evidence to do our best to satisfy a plaintiff’s burden of proof. If you have questions about a personal injury matter, contact our firm today.
Shebell & Shebell, LLC is comprised of an experienced team of attorneys that represent clients throughout New Jersey for matters of personal injury, workers’ compensation, criminal defense, and employment law. If you require legal representation, contact our firm today.