The term “burden of proof” is the Canadian legal standard for deciding whether an allegation has merit. In civil cases, your burden is considerably lighter than in criminal lawsuits. With the latter, the prosecutor must prove guilt ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ With the former, you must prove that your claim is more likely to be true than false. That equilibrium is known as ‘the balance of probabilities.’ While it’s considerably easier to achieve in civil cases, the process has plenty of complexity. Most Edmonton motor collisions occur due to negligence and error—two obscure charges that aren’t easy to reduce to numbers. Even so, Edmonton auto accident lawyers have the niche experience required to gather evidence.
A car accident lawyer must prove three things in court:
- That the accused owed you a duty of care.
- That their actions were a breach of that duty.
- That you suffered a legitimate injury or loss due to that breach.
All drivers have an unstated duty towards other road users. Careless and reckless actions can qualify as negligence, provided you suffered a loss. That doesn’t limit your burden of proof to medical bills alone, though. Other losses include pain and suffering, consortium loss, wages, and replacement services.
Burden of Proof
Simply put, the burden of proof means that the claimant must show that the defendant breached their duty of care. Your lawyer will provide evidence to achieve that end. There must be an obvious causal link between the defendant’s negligence and your losses. However, if you were equally at fault, your claim may not be successful. Comparative blameworthiness holds accusers accountable for their negligence and wrongdoing, so if the defendant accuses you in court, they, too, must satisfy the burden of proof.
Preponderance of Evidence
This is a legal standard that falls under the burden of proof banner. Under this standard, you meet the burden of proof if you can convince the courts that there is more than a 50% chance that your claim is valid. Canadian law relies on a different standard known as the balance of probabilities. Under this standard, the court must be convinced that your case is more rational and probable than not. Some doubt may exist even if the courts find it in your favor.
The But For Test
The But For test is a crucial component of the burden of proof in states and countries that assign fault to both parties where applicable. Where there are injuries with multiple causes, the plaintiff must prove that “but for” the defendant’s negligence, the loss wouldn’t have happened. The principle ensures that compensation is only awarded if there’s a connection between the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s actions.
The Material Contribution Test
Under the Material Contribution test, if the plaintiff can show that the defendant materially contributed to their harm, the court will award compensation even if they weren’t the only cause. If, for example, the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence and the malpractice of an auto manufacturer, the courts can still hold the defendant accountable. The Material Contribution test applies to cases where the plaintiff can’t fulfil their burden of proof due to factors like the limits of scientific knowledge. It only applies when the plaintiff’s limitations are beyond their control and doesn’t let the plaintiff off the hook entirely. They must still show that the defendant’s actions caused harm.
Causation analysis is the beating heart of any accident claim. The term refers to the connection between cause and consequence; the plaintiff must prove a link. If, for example, the plaintiff can prove that harm has occurred and the defendant committed a serious wrong, their case won’t be successful unless they can connect those two areas.
In Canada, the burden of proof for civil claims lies squarely on the shoulders of the plaintiff and their lawyer, but the law is rarely that simple. Fault often lies with multiple parties, and the plaintiff may be one of them. Canadian courts have developed broad principles to handle these difficult cases.