When someone else’s carelessness hurts you, you deserve justice and fair compensation. The challenge is showing that your claim is true, that they caused your injuries.

You do this by presenting evidence that supports your side of the story. The court will compare your evidence with the other side’s evidence and decide which is more convincing. Fortunately, the standard of proof is less in a civil case than a criminal case.

Let’s learn more about the preponderance of evidence rule in Georgia. We will explore what it means, how the judges explain the rule to the juries, and how it impacts your case.

What Does Preponderance of Evidence Mean?

In criminal cases, the state has to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. The standard of proof is different in a civil lawsuit.

Preponderance of evidence is the standard in a civil lawsuit, stating you have to make your case more believable than not. In other words, you need to prove the other side is more than likely responsible for your injury.

Although it’s easier than a criminal case, it can still be tricky. To better understand preponderance of evidence, let’s look at the landmark case: White v. Stanley.

A Landmark Decision on Preponderance of Evidence

As of 2023, the Georgia Court of Appeals has a new rule for how much proof you need. It is called the preponderance of evidence standard.

This ruling came from an important trial case—White v. Stanley (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2023), in which the jury ruled in favor of the defendant.

Unhappy with the decision, the plaintiff submitted an appeal, claiming that the jury instruction on preponderance of evidence was confusing.

The jury instruction was based off the previous evidence code, which defined preponderance of evidence as: “that superior weight of evidence upon the issues involved, which, while not enough to free the mind wholly from a reasonable doubt, is yet sufficient to incline a reasonable and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than to the other.

The plaintiff asserted that the mention of “a reasonable doubt” misled the jury. Although the Georgia Court of Appeals didn’t grant another trial, they did acknowledge the confusing nature of the instruction.

The previous evidence code was modeled after the Federal Rules of Evidence, which do not provide a definition of preponderance of the evidence. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that federal case law needs to be analyzed to determine Georgia’s legal definition of preponderance of evidence.

Although the plaintiff in White v. Stanley was not granted another trial, the decision from this case impacts civil cases moving forward. The new rule defines preponderance of evidence as “the trier of fact to believe that the existence of a fact is more probable than its nonexistence.

How the New Ruling Impacts Personal Injury Cases in Georgia

This ruling helps lawyers argue for simpler and clearer jury instructions on preponderance of evidence. It also tells judges not to mention reasonable doubt, which is the standard for criminal cases, not civil cases. This prevents juries from being confused by different standards of proof.

If you are suing someone for personal injury, you need a lawyer who understands this new rule and how to apply it. Before a trial, lawyers can ask the judge to explain the rule to the jury in a simple and clear way.

Your Fight Is Our Fight

As experts in personal injury law, Flanagan Law is familiar with the latest court decisions in Georgia and how they impact your case. We are with you until justice is served, whether that means taking your case to trial or settling. We keep you informed at every step, providing expert advice so you can make a smart and educated decision that meets your needs. Schedule a free consultation today to learn how we can help.

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