A civil legal case is a dispute in which private parties—individuals, businesses, organizations, etc—are in conflict. In a criminal case, only one party (the defendant) has a broad right to appeal an unfavorable decision. With narrow exceptions in certain jurisdictions, the prosecution generally cannot appeal a criminal case. Civil litigation is different. Both a plaintiff and a defendant can file an appeal in a civil case.

Below, our civil appeals attorney explains the key things to know about who can file an appeal in a civil legal case. 

Civil Litigation: Either Party Can Appeal a Decision

Civil cases are different from criminal cases in a number of different ways. Different procedural rules apply. For example, whereas the reasonable doubt standard applies to criminal law, most civil cases fall under the less-burdensome preponderance of evidence standard. Another important procedural difference is that all sides have equal appeal rights in a civil case: 

  • A plaintiff can appeal an adverse verdict in a civil lawsuit. 
  • A defendant can appeal an adverse verdict in a civil lawsuit. 

Once a civil appeal is filed, you will see the terms changed. The parties will no longer be referred to as the plaintiff and defendant in official court documents. Instead, the party filing the appeal will be called the appellant and/or petitioner. The party on the other side of the case is generally known as the appellee and/or the respondent.

Strict Deadline to Appeal (Can Vary by State and Type of Claim) 

You only have a limited amount of time to initiate an appeal of an unfavorable decision in a civil case. The specific deadline may depend on multiple factors, including the jurisdiction (state) you are filing an appeal in and the type of claim.

As an example, under the Washington State Rules of Appellate Procedure (5.2), a plaintiff or defendant in a civil lawsuit may have as little as 30 days to submit a notice of appeal. Though, in Washington, more time is available in certain types of cases. Other states have similar procedural rules in place. If you have any questions about the deadline to file a civil appeal, contact an experienced appellate lawyer as soon as possible after an adverse verdict.  

A Civil Appeal is Not a Re-Trial: You Must Have Solid Grounds 

Finally, it is important to emphasize that a civil appeal is not a re-trial. Parties are largely restricted from entering new evidence into the case on appeal. Instead, the party filing the appeal—whether it is the plaintiff or the defendant—must have grounds to prove that the court made some sort of error in rendering the original decision. 

Get Help From Our Civil Appeals Attorney Today

At The Appellate Law Firm, our civil appeals lawyers are driven to provide the highest level of legal representation to clients. If you have any specific questions about initiating an appeal in a civil case, our legal team is here to help.

Give us a call now or send us a direct message to arrange your strictly confidential initial consultation. With a focus on success, we handle civil appeals in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, Oregon, and Washington State. 

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Do you or a loved one have a trial case that you wish to appeal? If so, call the office or contact us at The Appellate Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation of your case and learn more about how to increase your chances of success with your appellate case.

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