How Do I Appeal a Personal Injury Case?
Most personal injury lawsuits settle before trial and there is no crystal ball to predict precisely how the trial will go for those few cases that remain. Even if an injured plaintiff has a strong case, an error in a ruling can unfairly benefit the other side and prejudice the jury. But if the personal injury decision or judgment does not go your way, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer may be able to help file an appeal.
Who can appeal a case in California?
Unlike a criminal trial, where only the defendant may appeal the outcome, either party may appeal a decision or judgment of a civil case in California.
Filing and appeal means more than just that the appellant (the party appealing the decision) is unhappy with the outcome; it means that the appellant can point to an error in how the court handled issues of law rather than issues of fact and that the error was prejudicial.
- Issues of law are how a legal authority is interpreted or applied. For example, if a judge rules that a certain type of evidence is not admissible because it is hearsay, that ruling would be an issue of law.
- A civil appeal does not delve into issues of fact, which include things like battles over whose witness was more convincing during testimony.
Since a judge and jury are deemed the best to determine how credible witnesses are and the weight of other evidence, an appellant needs to be able to point to possible issues of law to succeed in an appeal. In a personal injury case, this might include things like a ruling that prevented an expert from testifying or to allow questioning on a certain topic.
Filing a personal injury appeal
Filing an appeal in the California courts is not something that can be approached casually. Rules and requirements are very strict and if an appellant does not file by the deadline, the appeal cannot be filed at all.
Once the appeal is filed, the parties must write detailed and persuasive briefs that thoroughly explain what the law says, how it should have been applied by the trial court, and how the alleged error impacted the case. This involves pointing to specific instances in the trial transcript and explaining to the appellate court judges how the error prejudiced the appellant.
When successful, a personal injury appeal can lead to a remand, in which the case is sent back to the lower court to reconsider the case in a way consistent with the appellate court’s decision, or to a new trial of either the question of liability, the damages, or both.
Call a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer
Appealing a personal injury verdict is not something to be taken lightly but it can be done successfully if you understand the laws and follow the appellate court’s rules. The personal injury attorneys at Ellis Injury Law Firm understand the California civil litigation system and use that knowledge to fight for clients’ rights whether it is in settlement negotiations, trial, or appeals.
If you believe someone else was at fault for your injury, call to speak with us free of charge for a case evaluation.
Additional “Personal Injury Appeals” Resources:
- 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
- California Courts, Courts of Appeal, http://www.courts.ca.gov/courtsofappeal.htm
- Law360, 10 Things You Should Know About California Appellate Law, https://www.law360.com/appellate/articles/670446/10-things-you-should-know-about-california-appellate-law