In the majority of personal injury cases, a settlement is negotiated before you ever step foot in a courtroom. Cases that are tried before a judge or jury will result in a judgement. As a plaintiff who is suing for compensatory damages, you may not be satisfied with an unfavorable verdict if errors have occurred during the trial proceedings.
In a criminal trial, only the defendant has legal grounds to appeal a verdict, but in civil cases both the plaintiff and defendants have the right to appeal a personal injury judgement. An appeal is a legal process where one party requests that a higher court make a formal change to a decision rendered by a lower court.
A civil appeal is a process used to examine perceived errors of the law that unjustly affected the outcome of the case. If no errors are discovered, the appeal is denied.
Appealing a personal injury case in California
A plaintiff cannot appeal a personal injury verdict simply because they are unhappy with the amount of monetary damages awarded at the end of the trial. In California, the person who is filing the appeal (the appellant) and their personal injury lawyer should be able to highlight a procedural error during the trial that was prejudicial, whether it was committed by the presiding judge or jurors.
The main goal of the court of appeals is determining whether an error or infraction occurred in regards to the legal process.
A few examples of procedural errors committed at trial may include:
- Improper admission of evidence
- Judge gives incorrect instructions to the jury
- Whether expert witnesses were allowed to testify
- If testimony provided by expert witnesses exceeded their qualifications and scope
- Trial judge misinterpreted the law
In order to succeed with their appeal, the appellant is tasked with showing that the trial court made a reversible error that adversely affected the outcome of their case.
Filing an appeal after an unfavorable outcome
Unlike a trial, which focuses on presenting evidence, calling witnesses and is generally a fact-intensive proceeding, the appeals process does not reexamine facts of the case, but looks only at the application of law during the trial to determine if errors were made.
In order to file an appeal in the California court system, your attorney must prepare a detailed brief that expounds on the legal arguments at hand. There are also strict deadlines to appeal a personal injury case. As specified in California Rule of Court 8.104, an appellant must file a notice of appeal 60 days from the date of mailing notice of entry of judgment, or 60 days from the date of service of notice of entry by the party, or 180 days from the date of entry of judgment if no notice was provided.
It is up to your attorney to craft a compelling brief that speaks to the relevant laws correctly, in attempt to persuade the appellate court that errors were committed. The brief will usually cite previous cases that support the appellant’s legal standpoint. If the appeal is successful, the court may remand the case back to lower court, vacate the original judgement or call for a new trial.
Los Angeles personal injury representation
At the Salamati Law Firm, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers provide sound legal guidance to accident victims throughout Southern California. We are dedicated to providing unwavering advocacy to clients and use our extensive experience to protect your rights throughout every stage of the litigation process.
If you or someone you love needs legal guidance, call us toll-free to discuss your case free of charge.
Additional “Personal Injury Appeals” Resources:
- Judicial learning Center, The Appeal Process http://judiciallearningcenter.org/the-appeal-process/
- American Bar Association, How Courts Work – Steps in a Trial – Appeals, http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/appeals.html
- Court of Appeals, FACTS ABOUT A COURT OF APPEAL http://appeal.laws.com/court-of-appeal