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Many accident victims opt to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. It may be necessary to take legal action to receive fair compensation for physical injuries, mental anguish, and the pain and suffering from accident injuries.
Often, victims accept a settlement without going to trial. This enables victims to receive funds sooner and puts the stress of legal proceedings behind them. However, your personal injury case might be one of the few that makes it all the way to trial. While many victims receive reasonable judgments, the court may come back with a decision that doesn’t cover your expenses or meet your expectations based on personal injury settlement amounts examples you’ve learned about. If you didn’t receive what you believe to be a fair judgment, you might need to think about an appeal. An appeal is a process that allows you to ask a court to overturn the jury’s decision.
In most cases, you ask a higher court to review the judgment and overturn it. Sometimes, you make the request directly to the court that presided over the trial. Here’s what you need to know should you find yourself facing the process of appealing your personal injury judgment.
How to Appeal a Personal Injury Judgment
There are a few different ways that you can ask a court to reconsider the jury’s decision. First, you can apply to a higher court to review the trial. You tell the higher court why you think the verdict is wrong and ask the court to overturn it.
The appellate court is a court given the authority to decide whether the original court followed legal procedures during your trial. Other names for the appellate court include the court of appeals and the second instance court.
Every state sets a statute of limitations for appeals. In most cases, you have thirty days from the date of the judgment to file your appeal. You can’t challenge the verdict or get a different outcome if you don’t file an appeal before the statute of limitations elapses.
Another option that may be available to you is a motion for a new trial. This request goes to the same court that conducted the original trial. To ask for a new trial, you must cite one of the reasons listed in Nevada’s Civil Procedure Rule 59. These reasons include the following:
- Misconduct by the jury
- Misconduct by the other side
- New evidence
- An error of law
- Any other issue that kept you from having a fair trial
You must act quickly to file a motion for a new trial because you have only ten days after the jury verdict to make this request.
Whether it’s an appeal to a higher court or a motion for a new trial, working to have the court’s decision overturned requires filing formal court paperwork and serving the other side. In the case of an appeal to a higher court, you need to secure transcripts of the lower court proceeding. You will likely need a docketing statement of the lower court proceedings and your own documents that explain where the lower court made errors.
How can you know how much compensation to seek in a personal injury case?
Creating a life care plan is a crucial part of your legal journey after an accident. A life care planner can help you prepare a detailed budget outlining anticipated expenses for the rest of your life. A life care plan strives to ensure you receive enough money to cover essential costs from your accident, including medical and personal expenses.
Hiring a personal injury attorney ensures you prepare and present a comprehensive life care plan in court. Your attorney will help you navigate the process and ensure you include every qualifying expense.
Does the type of case affect your ability to appeal?
A judge may render a verdict and decide personal injury cases, or a jury may decide them. Whether you had a judge or jury trial, both trial types have pros and cons, and you may be wondering if you can appeal a judge’s ruling or a jury verdict.
Can you appeal a civil jury verdict or a judge’s ruling? Both case types have the same grounds of appeal. You must demonstrate that you didn’t receive a fair trial because of misconduct or errors or that new evidence has come to light that could change the case’s outcome.
Can you appeal if you were the defendant?
Every personal injury lawsuit has at least one plaintiff and one defendant. Sometimes, individuals sue companies for faulty equipment causing injuries or failing to maintain business equipment. However, defendants can also be ordinary individuals accused of causing an accident.
Although the burden of proof falls to the plaintiff to demonstrate guilt, presenting a personal injury defense can be just as challenging. There are grounds allowing defendants to appeal personal injury verdicts. Defendants may mitigate liability by disqualifying invalid assertions or contesting the injuries’ source. Defendants can also use any standard grounds of appeal to overturn a verdict.
What Are Some Grounds for Appeal?
If you file an appeal, it’s not enough to say that the jury’s verdict is incorrect; you have to give a specific reason why. For example, you might say that the jury disregarded jury instructions. You might argue that the court refused to allow the jury to consider certain types of evidence that it should have been allowed to review. Perhaps the court didn’t allow a crucial expert witness to testify on your behalf.
You aren’t limited to choosing only one grounds for appeal. Instead, you’re free to list all of the ways that the court or the jury erred during the lower court proceedings. This procedure is called arguing in the alternative. It’s allowed, and it’s common in Nevada personal injury case appeals to list multiple grounds for appeal.
Listing multiple grounds of appeal is a good idea because the appellate court may not accept one of your arguments. When presented with multiple grounds for appeal, there’s a better chance the court will accept at least one argument presented and grant the appeal.
Standard of Review
In most cases, the higher court that considers the appeal looks for what’s called an abuse of discretion. Generally, they trust the judgment of the lower court. They say that the lower court is in the best position to determine the credibility of witnesses and make other decisions about whether the jury can consider certain pieces of evidence. Unless the lower court makes a big mistake, the higher court usually says that the trial court can make its own decisions.
The higher court looks to see if the error likely made a difference in the outcome of the case. That is, if the court had made a different decision on the issue in question, it must be significant enough that it might have made the jury reach a different conclusion. If a trial court’s mistake is too insignificant to overturn a verdict, it’s called a harmless error.
Outcome of a Personal Injury Appeal
There may be several different results of an appeal. The outcome depends, in part, on what you ask the court to do. Of course, the court might decide to uphold the verdict. In that case, nothing changes at all.
If the court grants your appeal, they may vacate the jury’s entire verdict. In that case, they send the case back for a new trial. Alternatively, the court might change only the award of damages in your case.
An Example of Appeals in Personal Injury
One example of a successful Nevada personal injury appeal is the case of Sanders v. Sears-Page. In that case, the plaintiffs sued the responsible party after an auto accident. The defendant argued that the plaintiff wasn’t hurt by the car accident and that they had a pre-existing condition that explained their symptoms. The jury agreed with the defendant.
The plaintiff brought the case to the Court of Appeals. They claimed that the trial court made several mistakes that made the trial unfair. First, they argued that the court refused to dismiss a juror after they showed signs of bias. The appeals court agreed and went on to say that the court may have even made the juror more biased against the plaintiff because of the way they questioned the juror.
The appeals court also agreed that the lower court shouldn’t have admitted an exhibit. They agreed that the exhibit hadn’t been admitted properly according to the Nevada evidence rules. Also, the plaintiff successfully pointed out that the court allowed an expert for the defense to testify about the exhibit without following the Rules of Civil Procedure that required them to disclose their testimony ahead of time.
Ultimately, the result of the appeal in the Sanders v. Sears-Page case was that the court of appeals said the trial verdict wasn’t valid. They sent the case back to the lower court and instructed the lower court to conduct a new trial. The court of appeals told them to correct their mistakes in the new trial.
Are injured persons the only ones who can sue after an accident?
When a person is injured in an accident, they have immediate concerns to address. Injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can cause severe trauma that requires months or years of treatment. Some accident victims with these and other types of injuries may never recover.
Severe and permanent injuries can impact a person’s ability to work, perform routine tasks, and enjoy the same quality of life they had before their accident. Understandably, these victims may pursue legal action and fight for financial compensation for expenses stemming from their injuries.
The injured person isn’t the only one with potential grounds to file a lawsuit. Suppose your spouse suffers a permanent SCI in a car accident. They’re paralyzed and will never walk again.
Your spouse’s injury could impact your ability to have children. You may have to relocate if your home can’t accommodate a wheelchair. You may become a part-time caregiver to a spouse with critical needs, transporting them to medical appointments and providing assistance as needed.
In such situations, a spouse can pursue a loss of consortium lawsuit and seek damages. Although you may incur expenses such as moving costs stemming from your partner’s injuries, loss of consortium cases calculate judgments based solely on non-economic factors. The judge or jury will consider how your partner’s injuries impact your relationship and award compensation based on the impact on your relationship.
Spouses and domestic partners should familiarize themselves with loss of consortium cases and discuss their legal options with a personal injury attorney before their spouse takes legal action. Nevada requires loss of consortium cases to be filed in tandem with a lawsuit by the injured party. Consequently, if the person injured in the accident doesn’t pursue a legal case, their partner can’t file a loss of consortium case against the at-fault party.
How an Attorney Can Help
When you work with one of our Las Vegas or Henderson personal injury lawyers, they can help you evaluate your case and form realistic expectations. Your attorney can use their training and experience to evaluate the law and the facts. They can tell you if your appeal is likely to be successful.
If you’re going to pursue an appeal, it’s essential to ensure your paperwork is properly prepared. You need to cite what went wrong in the trial and explain how the law applies. It’s critical that you meet deadlines and file the paperwork in the appropriate court. You need to make sure that you have the necessary supporting documents. Working with an experienced personal injury law firm can help you make the best decisions in your case and pursue your interests to the fullest extent of Nevada law.
Adam S. Kutner is a top 100 trial lawyer with 32 years’ experience and expertise that will benefit you
Call us at (702) 382-0000 anytime to schedule a free consultation. We will work to get you the maximum settlement as quickly as possible so you can move forward on your healing journey.
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Adam S. Kutner
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
With more than 32 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas Valley, attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.