What if I Lose My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you’ve never been involved in the legal process before, the idea of losing a personal injury case and then appealing the judgment can seem daunting. Is it even possible to file an appeal in your situation? If so, how? How do appeals work? Will it mean you will have to go through a trial again?
These and many other questions are very common when people lose a personal injury lawsuit. Though you should always speak to your attorney about the possibility of appeal, here is some basic information you can use to help you get a better understanding of how appeals work.
Deciding to File a Personal Injury Appeal
Let’s start with an example. Let’s say that you suffered an injury after slipping and falling on private property. You then sue the property owner because you suffered an injury that required you to pay for extensive medical care, treatment, and rehabilitation costs. You filed your case, engaged in settlement negotiations, and when those negotiations didn’t work, you went to trial. After presenting your case the jury ruled against you. Now what?
Now, you have to decide if you want to file an appeal. An appeal, unlike a trial, doesn’t involve either you or the defendant presenting evidence. Instead, when you file an appeal your lawyer will file what is known as a brief. In this brief, the attorney will argue certain legal points. Depending on the kind of case you have, your attorney might, for example, argue that the trial court judge made a mistake when he ruled that certain evidence was or was not permissible.
The key distinction here is to know that if you file an appeal you are essentially making an argument with a different court that the trial court made a mistake.
Depending on the circumstances of your case and the legal questions involved, you might not use the same attorney you had when you went to trial. Some attorneys specialize in personal injury trials and settlement negotiations but don’t handle appeals.
On the other hand, some attorneys specialize in researching, writing, and arguing appeals before appellate courts. Whether you should use your current attorney or find another lawyer to help with the appeal is something you’ll have to decide.
Because an appeal is not a trial, you might be wondering what an appellate court can do for you. There are three basic outcomes that can usually result from the case of an appeal.
Affirm. When an appeals court hears a case and decides that the trial court did not make a mistake, it will affirm the trial court’s decision. This means that the appeals court will not do anything to change or modify what the trial court decided.
Remand. In some situations, the appeals court will determine that the trial court used the wrong legal standard when making a decision. When this happens, the appeals court can remand the case back to the trial court, essentially ordering a new trial or a new part of a trial.
Reverse. If the appeals court agrees with you and says the trial court made a mistake, it can also reverse or overturn the trial court’s decision and rule in your favor.
Of course, the outcome that you might be able to achieve with your personal injury appeal is not something you will be able to determine on your own. You should only decide to file an appeal after consulting with your attorney, weighing your options, and thinking about what you feel is best for you.