If you have recently lost a personal injury trial in which you were the defendant, you could be facing a large judgment for lifetime medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that far exceeds your ability to pay, or at least exceeds your willingness to pay. Whether the judgment was against you or your business, you may even face the daunting choice of whether it will be necessary to file for bankruptcy in light of the large personal injury judgment against you.
You may, however, be able to avoid paying the large personal injury award without the necessity of bankruptcy by filing an appeal of the award. Filing an appeal can mean that you do not have to pay the judgment immediately, and you will have a chance to correct mistakes that were made at the trial court level, which can have the effect of reducing the amount you are required to pay, or reversing the finding of liability against you altogether.
Mistakes Made By the Court in Finding Liability
In a civil personal injury trial, the court is required to find by a preponderance of the evidence that you were indeed liable for the legal actions brought against you. Although a jury will in many cases make this final decision, the court itself holds considerable power in determining what type of evidence is allowed into the trial. This includes physical evidence, testimonial evidence from eyewitnesses and others, and expert witnesses.
If the trial court made errors in either allowing in evidence from the plaintiffs that should have been allowed to be brought to the jury (again, this could be physical evidence or testimonial evidence), or in failing to let you present physical evidence, eyewitness testimony, or expert witnesses, this could have affected your ability to get a fair trial on the question of liability.
In addition, other unsound decisions by the trial court could lead to a successful appeal on the basis of liability, such as incorrect decisions made on a motion for summary judgment.
Mistakes Made By the Court in Calculating and Allowing Damages
Even if there was a valid determination of liability, you can also appeal a judgment based on the amount and type of monetary damages that were awarded against you. For example, the court may have incorrectly allowed the jury to award certain damages that were not allowed in the type of action based on your state laws. Another example could be allowing an award for damages that were already covered by insurance, if doing so would violate state laws.
Juror Misconduct and Bias
In many cases, a valid appeal of a personal injury judgment can occur where jurors acted improperly in determining liability or making the award. Potential grounds for a successful appeal relating to the jury could involve raising questions regarding:
- The methods used to select the jury
- Whether the jury followed jury instructions
- Whether the jury was given proper instructions
- Whether the jury acted out of improper bias
- Whether jurors committed misconduct, such as by consulting outside resources
You Can Reach a Settlement Throughout the Appeal Process
Appealing an adverse personal injury judgment does not necessarily mean you will have to continue litigating on through to a second trial, or even through the culmination of the appeals process. Simply filing for an appeal where there are valid reasons to do so can lead to settlement discussions with the other side which can lower the amount that will have to be paid to dispose of the case.
Help in Your Washington and California Appeal
The Law Office of Corey Evan Parker is focused on the civil and criminal appeals process in Washington and California. If you are considering filing a criminal or civil appeal, feel free to contact Mr. Parker today for a no obligation 30-minute consultation.