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When Should a Personal Injury Plaintiff Appeal?

In rare circumstances a personal injury case may go all the way to trial, with a judge or jury making critical decisions about the liability of the defendant and determining how much the defendant should pay in compensation to the plaintiff. Cases fail to settle before trial for a variety of reasons, a common one being unreconcilable differences about key facts or interpretations of law that lead the two sides to very different ideas about how much the plaintiff’s claims are worth. After a trial is over and a jury reaches a decision, there are times when a plaintiff may want to file an appeal.

What an appeal can and can’t do

The party that files the appeal—the appellant—may be the defendant or the plaintiff. Nevada’s Rules of Appellate Procedure govern when and how appeals may be pursued. In an appeal the appellant asks the higher court to change part or all of the lower court’s decision, potentially throwing out the decision of the trial court and in some cases even ordering that the case be retried. Trial courts generally examine the decisions of lower courts for legal errors that could have influenced the outcome of the case. A key feature of appeals is that they are not retrials of the entire case. The appeals court will examine the evidence presented at the trial court, but will not allow either party to introduce new evidence. In other words, the case will be decided based on the facts that were established at trial. If a problem was allowed to remain on the record at the trial level, the appeals court may not have leeway to consider alternative evidence.

When is an appeal the right step?

The decision to appeal can be a complex and difficult one, in part because appeals must be made within a fairly short time following the final decision of the trial court. Appeals may require the expertise of a new attorney, one who is familiar with appellate practice. And of course, appeals can cost more money. There are cases where a plaintiff may wish to file an appeal anyway, because the stakes are high enough that pursuing a case to its fullest is worth the risks. Here are some scenarios where the plaintiff may want to appeal:
  • Improper instructions were given to a jury, which reached a key decision in reliance upon them.
  • The trial judge made errors in allowing or disallowing critical evidence.
  • There is evidence that the jury or judge was unlawfully biased against the plaintiff.

Work with an experienced Nevada personal injury attorney

Ideally a personal injury case won’t need to go as far as an appeal. If it happens it’s important that every part of the case leading up to the appeal has been handled competently. That’s another good reason for working with a law firm with deep experience handling personal injury cases. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented Nevada clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our website.