Does the Defense have the Right to Appeal Personal Injury Verdict?
Statistically, most personal injury cases are settled before they even make it to the courtroom. It is expensive and time-consuming to try a case before a judge and jury. Nevertheless, some cases do make it to trial. For certain, most personal injury litigants let out a sigh of relief when a verdict is issued in their favor. However, there is one nagging question. Does the defense have the right to appeal a personal injury verdict?
The short answer is yes. Either side has the opportunity to question the verdict and appeal it. Personal injury cases are held in civil court; the onus is on the plaintiff to prove the facts by “a preponderance of the evidence”. This means that it is up to the plaintiff to provide enough proof to substantiate the claims made in the complaint. Think of a scale. The scale only needs to weigh down a little bit in your favor to win a case by the preponderance of the evidence.
Appeals are not new trials
It should be noted that appeals are not new trials. Appellate Division judges do not hear testimony regarding the case. They are charged with reviewing the matter to see if there were some issues at the lower court level. If there are concerns, the Appellate Division can remand the case back for a new trial. Of course, they can also agree with the holdings made by the lower court or agency.
Appeals are expensive
Appeals are a costly effort and for this matter, many defense attorneys are hesitant to take on an appeal. Their work is often mandated by insurance companies, who recognize the cost of paying
out on a verdict can sometimes be less than appealing the case. Nevertheless, defense counsel has the option to consider an appeal. Generally, defense appeals are initiated when there is a perceived error involving the law at the trial court or agency level. Most personal injury cases are heard in Superior Court and are appealed in the Appellate Division. Workers’ Compensation cases are also appealed in the Superior Court’s Appellate Division. This would include mistakes possibly made by the judge during jury instructions.
Time limitations in filing an appeal
Either party has the right to file an appeal within 45 days. It may seem a long time to wait for the final outcome of a case. In extreme cases, the defense may file a motion for remittitur, stating the jury’s verdict was excessive. They may also ask for a new trial based on this perception.
Personal injury cases require expert intervention. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, seek out competent legal advice. You may contact us here.