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What Happens if a Personal Injury Defendant Appeals?

Few personal injury cases go to trial. When they do, there are often close questions of fact or disagreements about narrow points of legal interpretation that prevent pretrial settlement. At the conclusion of a trial in which the plaintiff has prevailed, the jury will award the plaintiff compensation. From time to time a losing defendant will attempt to appeal the verdict of the jury in hopes of reducing or eliminating its liability at a higher court.

What can justify an appeal?

Either party to a civil case may appeal to a higher court if it feels that the trial court failed to correctly decide a particular issue. For a losing defendant, there are several common arguments that might be raised by a defendant upon appeal, including these:
  • Technical problems with jury instructions.
  • A misinterpretation of the law by the presiding judge.
  • Incorrect application of evidentiary rules.
  • Improper admission of an expert’s testimony.
Regardless of the reason, the defendant who makes the appeal must have a good reason for doing so. The attorneys who file the appeal are ethically bound to do so only if they have compelling, good faith arguments to make. That isn’t to say that an appeal might not be made on flimsy reasoning in hopes of further delaying payment of what the plaintiff is owed, but this sort of abuse can lead to sanctions against the attorney and a worse outcome for the defendant.

What happens when a case is appealed?

While a valid appeal is pending the plaintiff may not receive anything from the defendant under the trial court’s decision. So long as there’s a chance that the trial court’s judgment could be overturned, it isn’t considered “final” and therefore is not binding on the defendant. This can lead to additional hardship for the plaintiff, a fact that the courts will try to take into consideration as they schedule hearings. Cost is a frustrating component of being faced with an appeal. An appeal often raises new and difficult legal questions that must be closely analyzed by the attorneys involved, adding to the cost of litigation for both sides. A goal of every trial lawyer is to ensure that appeals aren’t a serious threat, because the ultimate compensation that goes to the client will be chipped away by the fees that will have to be paid to an appellate lawyer. On the other hand, protecting a trial court’s judgment is usually worth the investment. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury,  auto accident, and workers compensation cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.