In civil cases, the evidentiary standard used is called “preponderance of the evidence.” In this article, we’ll define the term “preponderance of the evidence” and give an example of how it works.
The term “preponderance of the evidence” refers to one type of evidentiary standard used in burden of proof analysis. Under this standard, the burden of proof is met when the party with the burden convinces the fact finder that there is more than a 50% chance that the claim is true.
Preponderance of the evidence is the burden of proof used in civil trials. It is the lowest standard of the ones in use in the U.S. legal system.
In criminal trials, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which requires there to be no other reasonable explanation that can come from the evidence presented at trial other than that the claim is true.
Let’s say that Marge is suing Jim in a civil trial for a personal injury. Marge claims that Jim, the owner of her local grocery store, did not take any steps to prevent customers from being injured by the loose stairway railing in his store. Marge claims that she tried to use the loose railing and fell, breaking her leg.
In order for Marge to win the lawsuit, her legal team has the burden of proof of convincing the court that it is more probable than not that her claim is true. In order to do this, they will have to prove that:
The plaintiff’s side, in this case, will have to use evidence to satisfy the preponderance of the evidence burden of proof. They can use things like witness statements, medical records, photographs, and medical bills to do so. In order to win the case, the plaintiff’s evidence and arguments will have to be more convincing than the defendant’s.