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Definition - What does Allegation mean?

An allegation in a personal injury lawsuit is a claim made by the plaintiff charging that they have been injured due to the negligence of another party. Allegations without evidence or proof of injury are merely assertions.

An allegation is first made in the complaint, which is the first document filed in a personal injury claim. The legal complaint is several paragraphs long and outlines the plaintiff's formal intention to file a civil lawsuit in court and seek specific damages or compensation for their loss.

The complaint contains several different types of allegations: jurisdictional allegations, factual allegations, and legal allegations.

Jurisdictional allegations will outline why the plaintiff filed their case within a specific legal jurisdiction. Jurisdictional allegations can be proven by listing the court rules or state statutes. Factual allegations state the facts of the case, and legal allegations outline what damages the plaintiff seeks to compensate them for their injuries. The legal allegations should clearly state how the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, how the defendant breached their duty, the type of breach which caused the injury, and how the plaintiff suffered actual loss due to the breach.

Proving the allegations of an injury case

Unlike a criminal trial where the criminal allegations must be proven beyond a shadow of doubt, a civil case has a much lower standard- preponderance of evidence. Although different courts and jurisdictions may not always interpret preponderance of evidence with the same standards, to win a personal injury claim the, plaintiff will have to prove their allegations with evidence and proof.

As mentioned above, most civil personal injury cases are based on negligence, which means that the injured party may have to prove the defendant had a duty of care towards the plaintiff, they breached their duty, the breach caused injury, and the plaintiff did, in fact, suffer loss.

Who will hear my allegation?

At the civil trial the allegation and supporting evidence will be presented to the judge or jury who will decide the case. Like criminal trials, civil trials follow a standard process: a jury is chosen, both parties make their opening statements, witnesses testify, cross-examination and closing arguments are made, juries are given instructions, and the jury or judge renders a verdict.

What must the plaintiff prove in a civil case?

The plaintiff, who has made the allegation, has the responsibility to present enough evidence to prove the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries and they should be compensated by the defendant for their loss.

The defendant can provide information to counter the plaintiff’s claim. For instance, the defendant could argue that the plaintiff is responsible for their own injuries. They could argue the plaintiff had foreknowledge of the risk and accepted the risk, or they could argue the plaintiff was not injured.

After both sides have presented their evidence, the court will determine if the plaintiff has provided sufficient evidence to prove their allegation. If they decide they have, the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff and award compensation to the plaintiff for their losses.

Getting compensation without going to court

Most civil cases never make it to court. In fact, they are generally settled out of court with the injured party negotiating a settlement with the insurance company, with or without the help of a lawyer. Settlements may offer less compensation for injuries, but they can cost less money and plaintiffs can receive their payments without a lengthy trial.

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