When people bring forth a legal case, they must show that the allegations being made are true, or at the very least, are likely to be true. Different types of cases require different standards of proof. For instance, the prosecutor in a criminal case has the burden of proving that the defendant is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” He must also establish that there is no reasonable conclusion to reach other than that the defendant has committed the crime given the facts.

Car accident cases are known as Civil lawsuits and require the plaintiff to meet a different burden of proof. Generally speaking, it is not as difficult as a criminal case. The plaintiff must show evidence that suggests the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s harm. In most car accident cases, the legal fault concept known as negligence is involved. Meeting the burden of proof means four elements must be established.

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  2. The duty of care was breached.
  3. The defendant’s negligence caused the car accident injury.
  4. The plaintiff was in fact, injured.

Duty of Care

The plaintiff injured in the auto accident needs to prove that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care and caution in regard to the plaintiff’s safety. The duty of care can be rather obvious. For example, the law requires that everyone who drives a car must exercise safety and caution when operating their vehicle. Most of the time, it will come down to what is considered reasonable or not reasonable to expect of the defending driver.

Breach of Duty

After establishing that the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care, the plaintiff must now prove that the defendant breached that duty. This means proving the defendant failed to demonstrate reasonable care, as explained above. If a police report was filed after the car accident showing the defendant was driving recklessly, speeding, driving too close, etc., this can help the plaintiff prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the crash. Another helpful way to establish fault and liability is to have witnesses testify as to what they observed. Pictures of the car accident scene are a great help, as well.


The plaintiff must prove that the negligence of the defendant caused the car accident and the injury. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that if it wasn’t for the defendant’s conduct, the injury would not have happened. In some instances, causation may be obvious. For example, if a client’s foot was run over by the defendant, and he suffered broken bones, it’s obvious that negligent driving caused the injury. It may be more difficult to prove if the plaintiff had a preexisting condition. If he or she was rear-ended and had prior back problems, proving that the car accident caused new back issues can be difficult.

Injury and Damages

To make a personal injury claim, the plaintiff must prove the details and extent of his injury. Proof of injury is shown through pictures, medical records, and testimonies of doctors and medical providers. The damages, or money the plaintiff is entitled to, must also be supported by evidence. Medical treatment records and bills are the best evidence of injuries and their extent.

When You Need a Car Accident Lawyer in Philadelphia

The Heslin Law Firm is an auto accident law firm located in Philadelphia. We serve not only Northeast Philadelphia residents but those in its surrounding counties. Gary Heslin is a skilled attorney with over three decades of experience helping car accident victims recover financial compensation that helps get their life back on track.

We understand how difficult it is dealing with the insurance companies after a car wreck. While you’re worried about your finances and health, they’re simply worried about paying you as little as possible. When you hire a car accident attorney, no longer do you need to speak with the insurance adjuster. Our law firm offers free legal consultations. Call us, or contact us on the web.

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