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Burden of Proof


To win a case, the plaintiff must meet a certain level, or burden, of proof. The jury is instructed that its decision must be made weighing the evidence to determine if the burden of proof has been met. In a civil case, this is generally called the preponderance of the evidence. It means that the person seeking to prove a legal point must show, with admissible evidence, that it is more likely than not that the law has been broken and/or that a duty was breached. A party that has met its burden of proof on a legal point prevails on that point. If a plaintiff does not meet the burden of proof, he or she loses.If a party seeks punitive damages in a legal case, it must prove that the other party was malicious, oppressive, acted fraudulently and/or in conscious disregard of the rights and/or safety of another person. This level of proof is a higher standard than the preponderance standard requiring the plaintiff to meet a higher standard called a clear and convincing evidence standard.

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