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Clear and Convincing Evidence

Definition - What does Clear and Convincing Evidence mean?

Personal injury plaintiffs have the responsibility or the "burden" to prove the elements of their civil case. Clear and convincing evidence is the level of evidence needed at a civil trial to convince a civil jury that the defendant's actions did in fact lead to the plaintiff's injuries.

Although there is no specific definition of clear and convincing evidence, the general assumption is that the evidence presented at trial is highly and substantially more probable to be true than not. Clear and convincing evidence is a greater level or standard of proof than the typical standard used in most civil cases, which is preponderance of evidence.

Preponderance of evidence simply requires the plaintiff to prove their claim is more likely than not to be true, which could mean the evidentiary requirement is met if the court believes the claim is likely more than 50% true. Clear and convincing evidentiary requirements would be much greater than 50%.

Cases with higher burden of proof

As mentioned above, most civil cases will not require the plaintiff to prove their case with clear and convincing evidence. Cases which do use this standard or burden of proof include civil cases involving wills and inheritance, cases dealing with whether to withdraw life support from a person who is dying, and claims involving fraud.

Other cases can include those where substantial property or money is involved or where the infringement of one's personal liberties may occur. Talk to a personal injury lawyer if you have questions about your civil case and the burden of proof you must meet to win your case.

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