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Shifting Definitions: Burden Of Proof Means Different Things At Different Times

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When it comes to a wrongful death lawsuit, it's not enough to know the defendant caused the death of your loved one. You have to prove to the court's satisfaction the defendant's actions resulted in your loss. However, the burden of proof required often differs depending on which stage of the case you're in. Here's what you need to know about this issue to help you better prepare for your wrongful death lawsuit.

Before the Trial Begins

When you file a lawsuit against the responsible party, it's not unusual for the defendant to file a counter motion to have the case dismissed. You will then be required to attend a hearing to determine if the lawsuit should proceed.

In this scenario, the focus is on proving the case has merit rather than whether the defendant was responsible for your loved one's death. The burden of proof required here is to show you have sufficient cause to sue the defendant for damages. For instance, if your loved one died because a surgical instrument was left inside his or her body, you would need to submit evidence that your case is meritorious because of this and/or other significant factors.

During the Trial

Once the trial actually starts, the burden of proof then shifts to showing how the defendant is responsible for your loved one's death. This can be the most challenging part of the case because not all connections are clear cut. For instance, if you're suing a doctor because a medication he or she prescribed caused your loved one's death, you have to show that it was the medication and not something else that lead to the person unfortunate demise and that the doctor knew or should have known that would occur.

This is where medical reports and expert testimony can benefit your case the most. A medical expert can help make those connections in the judge's or jury's mind that may sway the decision in your favor.

At the End of Trial

The last thing you have to do at trial is show you deserve the compensation you're requesting. If you're asking the jury to award you $1 million in damages, the burden of proof in this scenario should be geared towards justifying the request. For instance, you can provide evidence of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering that resulted from the incident as a way of showing you're not asking for the moon.

It's particularly important at this stage of the game that your demands are adequately justified. People generally don't like those who appear to be greedy, and you may inadvertently give off this impression if you ask for too much money. Be sure to consult with your attorney to ensure the compensation you're asking for aligns with your damages and losses.

For more information about this issue or help with a wrongful death case, contact a personal injury attorney. Click here to discover more about your options.