What is the "burden of proof"?

The "burden of proof" is given to the person in an Oregon personal injury case making a claim for compensation.  Whenever someone files a Complaint in a court, or asserts an Affirmative Defense in response to a Complaint, that person has made an allegation, and has to back it up with proof.  Thus, that party or person has the burden  of proof. 

The burden of proof differs, depending on the kind of case that is in front of the court or the jury.  In a criminal case, the burden of proof is known as "beyond a reasonable doubt."  This is a pretty high burden, and the rationale is that if you are going to put someone in prison, you better not have any doubt about their guilt, or at least a reasonable doubt. Jurors often seem much more familiar with this burden of proof because they have seen it depicted on the big and small screens, sometimes accurately, sometimes not.

Civil cases, like an Oregon or Washington auto injury claim, do not have the same burden of proof.  These cases require the person bringing the claim or asserting a defense to prove their allegations by a "preponderance of the evidence."  This means "more likely than not."  So, when presented with whether a party proved their claim or their defense, a jury must determine whether the evidence shows, more likely than not, something has been proven.  The jury can have some doubts, and those doubts may even be reasonable, but in the end, if whatever fact is being argued about is probably true, then the person making the allegation has "met the burden of proof."

Whether and how to pursue an injury claim in court depends on whether you can meet your burden of proof more than any other single factor.  So, if you have questions about how to go about proving a claim like this, give us a call at 503-325--8600.  We can explain the process, and how we address the burden of proof.