Sometimes facts must be proved by “clear and convincing evidence” in a California personal injury case. Clear and convincing evidence is a higher burden of proof than a “preponderance of the evidence” in California (but not as high as “beyond a reasonable doubt”).
To prove a fact by clear and convincing evidence a party must convince the judge or jury it is highly probable that the fact is true. It is evidence “so clear as to leave no substantial doubt”… in every reasonable mind.”1
When is “clear and convincing” proof required?
The clear and convincing standard is used where important individual interests or rights are at stake.2
In California personal injury cases, clear and convincing proof is most often required when the plaintiff seeks punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages such as medical bills, car repair bills, lost wages and lost earning capacity.
To be awarded punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with malice, oppression or fraud.
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- In re Angelia P. (1981) 28 Cal.3d 908, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 201.
- Weiner v. Fleischman (1991) 54 Cal.3d 476 (quoting Herman & MacLean v. Huddleston (1983) 459 U.S. 375).