There can be significant financial consequences of unexpected injuries that have occurred in a car crash that you did not cause or foresee. You may decide to file a personal injury claim, but success isn’t a given.
You may have to take the case to court, and even then, the result is not a foregone conclusion. Appeals against personal injury claims that have been denied can be complex and expensive.
The best advice is to try and ensure that your initial claim is as well prepared as it can be; it should include solid evidence of what happened and who was responsible.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney to help with your case could increase your chances of winning without having to go to appeal. The tips below are designed to help you decide what to do if you are considering making an appeal.
Tip #1: Find Out What You Can Appeal
An appeal against a trial court’s decision about your personal injury claim must be based on a claim that the trial court made an error in fact, law or procedure. It cannot be made if you just feel that the court made a wrong decision or that the amount of compensation awarded was insufficient.
It is hard without an attorney to determine whether one of the three types of errors mentioned above has been made. This can make the appeals process difficult for laypeople.
An appeal cannot return to the same court. It will normally be heard in the state’s Superior Court or an appellate division within it. You will need to find out exactly what part of your claim can be appealed against based on an interpretation of one of the errors mentioned above having been made.
Tip #2: You May Need to Find Another Attorney
You will need to ask your current personal injury trial attorney if he or she is prepared to take your case to appeal. In many cases, they will not be prepared to do this under the usual personal injury attorney’s contingent fee arrangement.
You may need to approach another attorney who will be prepared to consider taking your case to appeal after listening to all the evidence for the case carefully. Note that you will not be able to present evidence that was not presented at the original trial court.
The appellate court will only examine whether the trial court made an error.
Tip #3: Ask Yourself Whether You Can You Afford an Appeal
If your original personal injury attorney decides against working on your behalf for an appeal (and it’s worth noting that appeals are fairly likely), you will not only need to find another attorney who would be willing, but also be prepared to pay him or her.
The contingent fee (which is typical but not necessarily universal for personal injury attorneys) does not usually extend to appeals cases. You will obviously have to ask for an estimate of what it might cost to retain an appeals attorney and whether the potential benefits of a successful claim justify the cost.
Tip #4: A Sound Case Made by an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney May Avoid the Need for an Appeal
Taking your personal injury claim to an appellate court is a risky business and may be expensive, too. It is better to think the whole thing through right at the outset.
Claims may fail because of insufficient evidence (which you can avoid), insufficient witness statements, inconsistencies in which the evidence has been presented, poor handling by the attorney helping you, or a genuine mistake by the court.
Choosing the right attorney from the start may improve your chances of winning your case and not having to file an appeal.