Receiving a verdict in your favor in a personal injury case doesn't always mean the end of the lawsuit. Sometimes, defendants decided they don't like the outcome and want a second chance at making their case, so they file appeals. The best way to handle this action depends on the circumstances, but here are two ways you can respond.
The purpose of an appeal is to determine whether there were any mistakes committed during the trial that would've affected the decision in the case. If there were, the defendant would be entitled to a new trial and you would be required to prove your case all over again.
However, not just any mistake will earn the defendant a retrial. The defendant must show that one or more of the following issues occurred in their case:
- There was an error of law, e.g. the judge applied the wrong law or legal standard to the case facts
- The ruling was based on erroneous information, e.g. the judge considered the wrong facts or failed to allow evidence that should have been included
- The judge abused their discretion, e.g. the judge used their discretionary power to make a decision that was not supported by the facts
- There was jury or attorney misconduct that impacted the case
- There were other issues that prejudiced the court against the defendant
It's not enough for these issues to crop up during the case, though. The defense must have pointed out the error at the time it happened in court, and they must show that the mistake had a direct impact on the case's outcome. If the defendant is unable to meet all these requirements, the appeal court will deny their request.
So, in many cases, it'll be completely unnecessary for plaintiffs to do anything when they receive notice defendants have filed appeals. The biggest problem a plaintiff has to contend with is that any judgment ordered by the court is put on hold until the appeal is decided. Depending on the court's caseload and other factors, it could take months or years before you see any money, so you'll need to make the appropriate arrangements.
When you hear the defendant in your case is appealing the decision, talk to your attorney about the likelihood the person will succeed and proceed accordingly.
Offer to Negotiate
An appeal represents an expense of both time and money for both sides of the lawsuit. As noted previously, even if you won the case, you won't get paid until the appeal is settled, which can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years depending on the court. For instance, in Indiana, it takes at least six months just to get the paperwork filed and the case reviewed. The judges can take as long as they like to deliberate.
If you can't wait that long to get your money, you don't want to risk getting the decision overturned and having to do a retrial, or you just want everything to be over and done with, your other option is to offer to negotiate a settlement.
Even though you have a court judgment, you can still work out a settlement with the defendant. More often than not, the defendant is appealing the case because he or she doesn't want to pay the amount the court ordered. Thus, the person may be willing to abandon the appeal if you're willing to accept a little less than you're owed.
Be sure to discuss this option with your attorney first and weigh all the factors that impact your situation to determine if this is the best path for you.
For advice about dealing with an appeal or help with your personal injury case, contact a local personal injury lawyer.