Is proving a personal injury case the same as proving a criminal case?

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

No, not at all. The most important distinction between a personal injury and a criminal case is the burden of proof.

  • A personal injury case requires that you (the injured person) prove your case by a "preponderance of the evidence".
  • A criminal case means that the prosecutor must prove the case "beyond a reasonable doubt".

We like to use a football analogy to explain burden of proof.

  • To prove your civil case (PI case), you must get the football to the 51st yard line. That's "preponderance of the evidence".
  • To prove a criminal case, the prosecutor must get the football almost - just about to - the goal line. That's "beyond a reasonable doubt".

Some personal injury cases would have a criminal case as well.

  • For example, if your spouse was killed by a drunk driver, you would be entitled to sue for wrongful death (personal injury case) and the prosecutor could bring a drunk driving, vehicular homicidecase (criminal case) as well.
  • For example, the OJ Simpson case had both a (civil) personal injury - wrongful death - lawsuit brought by Nicole Simpson Brown and Ronald Goldman's parents and a criminal murder case brought by LA prosecutors.
    The Simpson case shows that it is easier to prove a (civil) personal injury case than a criminal case because of the differing burdens of proof.

More articles about personal injury

  • Personal Injury Law

    Understand personal injury claims - legal remedies where injured persons can pursue compensation for injuries suffered.

  • Personal Injury Glossary

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  • How much is my Personal Injury Case Worth?

    Why only a qualified attorney can help estimate damages from injuries that may have cost you monetarily, mentally and/or physically.

  • Time Limits in a Personal Injury Case

    Though it varies by state, personal injury cases must be brought within a certain time frame or forever be barred. Here’s how to determine whether you still have an injury claim to pursue.

  • Personal Injury Attorney Fees

    Injury lawyers often work on contingency fees, meaning you don’t pay unless they win your case. And most cases can be resolved before they ever go to trial.

  • Why You Cannot Trust Your Insurance Company

    The favorite words of insurance carriers are DENY, DEFEND and DELAY. Here’s why you have to be careful.

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