When most people think about court cases they tend to lump them all under one umbrella. This is far from how courts work. There are several types of court cases, but they primarily fall under the heading of civil or criminal cases. Criminal cases involve a defendant who has been accused of breaking the law. Civil cases do not involve a defendant, and usually relate to property rights, divorce, probate and similar matters.
It is undoubtedly a disappointment when an individual loses a civil court case. It can mean not receiving compensation for damages they have incurred, not holding the other party to a contract or not receiving inheritance, to name a few examples. There is still a chance for the individual to receive the outcome they desire, though, by appealing the verdict of the case.
Appealing a civil case
An appeal can be a person’s second chance at winning their case. It is important to remember however that an appeal is not guaranteed simply because someone does not like their outcome. For an appeal to be heard, there will have had to have been some form of legal error in the previous case.
Courts often act in error, but some of the most common reasons for appeals to be heard include:
- The verdict rested on evidence that was inadmissible
- The judge acted in error
- The jury made their decisions based on bias
Each situation is different, and these are only basic examples. A skilled appellate attorney is critical to determining how best to proceed with an appeal.
Do not wait to appeal
If the court truly did act in error, then a case may be examined by a higher court. Another key detail to remember is that this is not a new trial. The point of an appeal is for a court to reexamine a fatal error made by the lower court and to consider if that error caused the party appealing to have lost their case.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting to submit their appeal. Appeals work on a very strict timetable. Generally, an individual will have only 30 days to submit their written petition to the higher court before their window of opportunity closes.
Nobody wants to be given an unfair judgement. If you have found yourself on the receiving end of a losing verdict, and believe that the court acted in error, do not hesitate to appeal. You have rights, do not be afraid to uphold them.