You are currently viewing What Is An Appeal?

What Is An Appeal?

An appeal is a legal process through which a party asks a higher court to review a decision made by a lower court or administrative agency. In the vast majority of cases, an appeal is available to you only after the court makes a final determination on a legal issue; for example, this would happen after a trial or an injunction is decided.  The purpose of an appeal is to seek a reversal or modification of the lower court’s decision based on errors of law or fact that occurred during the trial or administrative proceeding according to a serious injury lawyer.  This could include any error that happened during the trial itself or on any ruling that happened prior to the trial that arguably affected the results of the trial.

In a state court, you typically can appeal to the appellate court and then, if that is an unfavorable result, you can appeal to the state Supreme Court.  In very rare occasions, you may have a right to appeal to a federal court based on something that happens in state cases, which typically does not present in a personal injury case.

If you have an attorney on a contingency fee contract, he or she will likely continue to handle your case on appeal under the same contract that you signed.  Some attorneys increase their legal fee if the case is appealed.  

Here’s how the appeal process typically works according to Kiefer & Kiefer:

  • Filing a Notice of Appeal: The party seeking to appeal, known as the appellant, must file a notice of appeal with the appropriate appellate court within a specified timeframe after the lower court’s decision is issued. This notice notifies the higher court that the appellant intends to challenge the decision.
  • Appellate Briefs: After the notice of appeal is filed, the parties involved in the appeal submit written arguments, called appellate briefs, outlining their legal arguments and presenting relevant evidence to support their positions. The appellant’s brief typically argues why the lower court’s decision was incorrect or unjust.
  • Oral Argument: In some cases, the appellate court may schedule oral arguments, during which the attorneys for each party have the opportunity to present their case in person before a panel of judges. Oral arguments allow the judges to ask questions and seek clarification on the issues raised in the briefs.
  • Appellate Decision: After considering the written briefs, oral arguments (if any), and the record from the lower court, the appellate court issues a decision. The appellate court may affirm the lower court’s decision, reverse it, modify it, or remand the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
  • Enforcement of Appellate Decision: Once the appellate court issues its decision, the parties must comply with the court’s ruling. If the decision requires further action by the lower court or administrative agency, the case may be returned to that court or agency for implementation.

It’s important to note that the grounds for appeal are typically limited to errors of law or procedure, rather than a re-examination of the facts of the case. Appellate courts generally defer to the lower court’s findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous. Additionally, the appellate process can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case involved.

If you are in need of legal assistance, contact a lawyer near you for help.