Personal injury cases are aimed at providing economic compensation for victims that are hurt by the careless or negligent acts of others for damages caused by the accident and resulting injuries, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost work income, among others.
Often the more successful the trial, the more likely defendant will challenge the verdict or judgment in an appeal. Having an appellate specialist on your side levels the playing field and can improve your chances of not only identifying the flaws in the defendant’s appeal but presenting them clearly and persuasively to the appellate court.
If you are unsatisfied with the ruling of the court in a personal injury case, you might have the option of appealing it, but it is important to understand that it is a challenging process, which is why you should have a Los Angeles appellate litigation firm with a good understanding of personal injury appeals to represent you. Gusdorff Law is one such law firm.
Gusdorff Law’s founder is an experienced Los Angeles personal injury appeals lawyer who understands the importance of helping you file and pursue an appeal to its conclusion. Contact us today via phone at 818-877-4515 to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury appeals lawyer!
Can I Appeal a Verdict in My Personal Injury Case?
The simple answer is that it depends. To help you better understand whether an appeal is something you can pursue in your personal injury case, it is important to first consider whether the matter was resolved through a settlement or through trial.
If Your Personal Injury Case Was Resolved Through Settlement
The vast majority of personal injury cases are usually resolved through a settlement. Settlements are typically made through out-of-court negotiations between the at-fault party or their representative and the injured victim or their personal injury lawyer.
Upon reaching a settlement, the case is concluded. However, there are usually terms that the victim is required to consent to first. If you agree to a settlement, it is important to understand that you won’t ever be able to appeal it.
If Your Personal Injury Case Was Resolved Through Trial
If an agreement cannot be reached after the at-fault party or their insurance provider fail to offer the victim a fair settlement or they dispute liability and fault, a personal injury case may proceed to trial or litigation.
When a personal injury case goes to trial, it can only be resolved through a verdict or judgment reached by a judge or jury. Fortunately, victims have the legal option of appealing the decision reached in their trial.
If you were an injured victim and would like to appeal a judgment or verdict, it is your right to do so. You can file the appeal after the defendant is found to be not liable for your damages or you are offered compensation that’s far less than you believe you deserve.
If you are unable to show a reversible error or mistakes concerning important facts of your case that had an impact on its outcome, chances are that your appeal won’t hold much weight. In some instances, you may also have the option of filing a post-judgment motion for a new trial.
You might have the option of appealing a verdict in your personal injury case in Los Angeles, but this isn’t something you should do alone. It is always advisable to hire a trusted personal injury appeals lawyer from Gusdorff Law to file the appeal for you.
Who Can Appeal a Personal Injury Verdict?
It is worth noting that both the plaintiff (injury victim) and the defendant (at-fault) party are legally allowed to appeal the verdict in a personal injury case. One thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that no amount of compensation awarded is typically paid out until all appeals are exhausted.
If a jury finds the defendant responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages and awards them compensation, the defendant has the option of appealing that verdict. If the jury determines that the defendant didn’t cause the injury and shouldn’t be required to compensate the injury victim, then the plaintiff also has the option of filing an appeal.
What Are Some of the Reasons That I Could File an Appeal?
The plaintiff and defendant might both have the legal right to appeal the verdict in personal injury cases, but it is still important to consider the reasons for appealing. It is important to understand that appeals in civil cases such as personal injury cases are based on issues of law and not fact.
Simply put, being unhappy with the jury verdict isn’t sufficient reason to file an appeal. Whichever side is appealing the jury verdict needs to ensure that the appeal is based on errors of law committed during the case that were prejudicial against them.
Credibility issues in the original trial are usually unappealable since the appellate court refers to the jury or judge, who was in the best position to make such determinations. The appellate court considers all records of the trial that may justify reversing the decision, and in some cases, may vacate a judgment and/or remand the verdict to a lower court for further action.
Here are some of the reasons that you could file an appeal:
- Evidence that should have been admitted into the trial was excluded by the judge.
- The jury was improperly instructed on the applicable laws.
- The verdict lacks sufficient evidence to justify it.
- Denial of expert witness testimony because the witness wasn’t believed to be an “expert,” but actually was.
What Are the Grounds for Appeal?
If you file an appeal, it isn’t enough just to claim that the court’s order or jury’s verdict was incorrect. Rather, you must overcome the presumption of correctness. Here are the possible grounds for an appeal of a personal injury case in California:
- Unreasonable Verdict: The party that files the appeal claims that the ruling was based on insufficient or weak evidence.
- Error of Law: Legal errors include those that might have happened during the initial trial and may include jury misdirection or wrongful admission of evidence.
- Jury Misconduct: Jury misconduct may include jurors discussing the case with non-jurors, conducting independent research, deciding the case before the close of the case, and concealing information or biases.
- Damages Awarded Are Too Low or Too High: A plaintiff may appeal a verdict if he or she believes that damages awarded were too low while a defendant can appeal a verdict if it feels that the plaintiff was awarded damages that were too high.
It is always important to understand that you are not limited to choosing just one of the grounds for appeal. Instead, you have the freedom to list all the ways that you believe the court or jury in the trial erred and an appellate lawyer can help you sort through the various errors to choose the most persuasive one(s) to challenge in your appeal.
How Does the Appeals Process Work?
In personal injury trials, jurors are asked to examine the evidence and facts to determine which party is liable for damages. The appeal doesn’t involve a jury, but rather a panel of judges that review appellate briefs that your legal counsel provides.
Filing the correct paperwork is essential in an appeal. Not only must your lawyer provide justification for how and why the jury’s decision or the judgment was wrong, but why the law favors you in that situation. Your lawyer is also required to file all relevant supporting documentation.
Notice of Appeal
Filing a Notice of Appeal is the first step when filing an appeal. The deadline provided for filing is incredibly short and differs depending on the jurisdiction and on various factors, which is why you should immediately consult with appellate counsel if you anticipate appealing an order or judgment.
Obtaining and Preparing the Record
An appellate court will base its decision on a combination of the “appellate record” and the parties’ appellate briefs. The appellate record may include all of the relevant written materials that were filed or offered for filing, as well as the written record of oral proceedings. Prior to the briefing, the appellant and respondent/appellee prepare the written record that their briefs will reference.
A typical appeals involves three briefs: the appellant’s opening brief, the respondent or appellee’s brief, and the appellant’s reply brief. (Complex appeals in which there are cross-appeals or updates in the applicable law during the pending of the case can result in additional briefing.) These briefs differ substantially from the written motions that may have been filed in the trial court, and they demonstrate to the court why the appeal should or should not be successful.
This is arguably the most important and time-consuming step of the appellate process and you need a competent lawyer to ensure that it is done right.
An appellant is offered the right to an oral argument before the California Courts of Appeal and is often offered that right before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are especially important in complicated personal injury cases. Sometimes, however, parties choose to waive the oral argument, and instead, submit the appeal on the briefs. The oral argument is typically the sole opportunity you have to speak to the appellate judges or justices who will decide your case, and therefore, can be extremely important.
The appellate court then renders its decision after both sides have presented their oral arguments. It is now up to the appellate judges to decide whether procedural steps were followed strictly and whether or not the verdict will be upheld.
Why Should I Hire Gusdorff Law to File My Personal Injury Appeal?
You can change your own lightbulbs, but when you need to run a new electrical line in your house, you will likely outsource the job to an electrician who will do so safely, competently, and efficiently. The same reasoning applies to personal injury appeals: you can appeal your own judgment or your client’s judgment, but retaining Gusdorff Law will help give you the peace of mind that it is being done correctly, efficiently, and persuasively. That’s why it is highly advisable to work with a skilled Los Angeles personal injury appeals lawyer to help you file your appeal correctly.
Here are some of the reasons why you should hire us:
We Strongly Believe in the Honor and Integrity of the Practice of Law
When it comes to the ideals of our profession, we strive to always follow and practice to the highest ethical and professional standards. We would rather decline a case than to bring a frivolous appeal. We never cut corners and we bill honestly and transparently. We communicate with our clients at each step of the process, and we treat everyone, from our clients to our opposing counsel, from court staff to the justices, with respect.
We are also candid; if we don’t think we can help you, we will tell you. If we think you have an uphill battle, we will tell you. We treat you the way we want to be treated — with honesty, empathy, and confidence that we will do everything we can to maximize your odds for appellate success.
We Are Experts at Identifying Trial Court Errors
We have the advantage of a fresh look at your case, which allows us to be impartial when identifying appellate issues. Hiring us allows you to leverage your knowledge of the case with our unique and appellate-based perspective. We also have experience and judgment to identify which issues will be most persuasive to an appellate tribunal, and perhaps even negatively sway the appellate judges.
We Have a Deep Understanding of the Appellate Process
We know how the reviewing courts work, and navigate our clients through the entire appeals process. We know the court rules and help our clients avoid the procedural hiccups that can derail many others. We have systems and procedures to ensure we do not miss any step of the process.
We Are Highly Proficient When it Comes to Written Advocacy
Trial court lawyers have many opportunities to explain complex legal and factual issues, both in person and in writing. With appeals, however, that simply isn’t possible. We may only have one opportunity to convince the court of our position, and at best, may get only a few. Our primary tool is written advocacy. We are highly proficient at educating appellate judges about the relevant facts within the context of the applicable law. Essentially, we speak the language that appellate courts understand.
Need a Reputable Los Angeles Personal Injury Appeals Lawyer?
Appealing the verdict in your personal injury case isn’t something that you should take lightly, but it is possible to do it successfully if you follow the rules of the appellate court and actually have a good understanding of the law.
This is where a Los Angeles personal injury appeals lawyer comes in. At Gusdorff Law, we understand the litigation system in California and the Ninth Circuit we use that knowledge to fight for the rights of our clients when it comes to appeals. Call us today at 818-877-4515 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.