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Part I : Whose Fault Is It?

Determining Responsibility

A critical part of a successful personal injury case is proving the fault of the other person. Some cases of responsibility (“liability”) for an accident are pretty clear. For instance, if you have been rear-ended in a traffic collision, 99.99 percent of the time it is the fault of the driver who hit you.

In many cases, it is necessary to bring in an expert witness to establish that the other party was at fault. In a traffic accident case, for example, an “accident reconstructionist” may be necessary to prove the fault of the other driver. In a medical malpractice case, a doctor familiar with the procedure and standard of care in the area is vital to proving your case. In a defective product case, engineers or metallurgists may be among the experts called to testify that the product was improperly designed or manufactured, making the product dangerous.

To win in a personal injury case, you must prove that the other person is responsible for your injuries. The standard of care that is used in civil cases such as personal injury is a “preponderance of the evidence”—you must prove that it is more likely than not that the other party was at fault and caused your injuries. This standard of proof is quite a bit lower than that required in criminal cases, where the District Attorney must prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.