Personal Injury Lawyer
If your personal injury lawsuit proceeds to trial, and you don’t agree with the judge’s decision or the jury’s verdict, you may be able to appeal the decision to a higher court. Both the plaintiff and the defendant have the right to appeal a personal injury verdict. If you win the case and the defendant appeals the verdict, they will not pay any of the damages awarded by the jury until their appeal is completed.
Although you have a right to appeal a personal injury case, you also need a valid reason. Simply being unhappy with the verdict is not a sufficient reason to file an appeal. An appeal must be based on some error of law that occurred in the case and was prejudicial to your case.
Common Grounds for Appealing a Personal Injury Verdict
Examples of errors that might occur in a personal injury case that provide grounds for filing an appeal include:
- The judge’s decision not to certify a witness as an expert witness and thus to exclude their testimony;
- The judge’s decision to exclude evidence that should have been admitted;
- The judge giving jury instructions on laws that do not apply in your case or that were explained in a biased manner;
- A lack of evidence supporting the verdict or a verdict that is contrary to the law;
- Misconduct by the opposing party;
- Jury misconduct, including discussing the case with non-jurors, failing to disclose personal information that would have disqualified them as a juror, and conducting an independent investigation into the facts of the case.
The party appealing the judgment does not have to choose only one grounds for appeal, but may list all of the ways that they believed the judge or jury erred in the original proceeding.
Standard of Review on Appeal
In most appeals, the reviewing court will look for an abuse of discretion. The appellate court will only consider the record from the original trial to make the determination whether the verdict should be affirmed, reversed, or remanded to the trial court for further action. The reason for this is that the lower court is in a better position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses and make decisions about the evidence. Further, the appellate court will determine whether the error made a difference in the outcome of the case. The error must have been significant enough that had the court made a different decision, the jury likely would have reached a different conclusion. Otherwise, you will not be able to win an appeal even when the court did make an error. This is called a harmless error.
Possible Outcomes for an Appeal
If the appellate court grants your request for an appeal, the court may take several actions in your case. It may revise the jury’s damages award, reverse the entire verdict, or remand the case back to the lower court for a new trial.