Personal Injury – St. Louis Personal Injury Appeals Lawyer
What is a Personal Injury Appeal?
If you have received an unfavorable verdict as a plaintiff or defendant in a personal injury case, then your best legal option going forward is likely an appeal. An appeal takes your case to the next highest court to evaluate whether legal procedure and law were followed in your case at the trial level. If the appellate court who hears your appeal finds that appropriate legal procedure and law was not followed in your case, then the appellate court can overturn the trial verdict. An appellate court can also find that the trial court did follow the law appropriately and can affirm the trial court verdict. If the appellate court needs more information about an issue, then the appellate court can remand the case back to the trial level for further proceedings. If you are looking to file an appeal for your personal injury case, then it is important to speak to an experienced appeals lawyer right away as your time to file an appeal is limited.
What Kinds of Things Can Be Appealed in a Personal Injury Case?
It is important to understand what issues can be appealed in a personal injury case before you file your appeal. If your trial attorney filed any pretrial motions or made any pretrial or trial objections, then the judge’s decisions on those motions and objections can be reviewed and reversed by an appellate court. Whenever your trial attorney makes a motion or objection, he or she is making a record that can be reviewed by an appellate court. The issues that can be appealed in a personal injury case include:
- Jury misconduct
- Misconduct by the opposing party
- Misconduct by the judge
- New evidence
- A mistake of the application of the law
If your trial attorney failed to make a motion on an important issue or failed to make appropriate objections during your case and trial, then you will likely have lost the ability to contest those issues because they weren’t raised at the trial level. If this happens, then your appeal may be more about the ineptitude of your trial attorney and their failure to properly represent you. Once you understand your potential appellate issues, then you will have a better idea of the likelihood of success in your case.
What Kinds of Things Cannot Be Appealed in a Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury appeals are more limited than many realize. An appeal is not a place where you can retry your case in front of a new judge or jury (unless the appeals court finds that a new trial is warranted). The only time that a retrial will happen is if there are specific reasons why the appellate court cannot make a final decision on the case. Appeals are also not available if you believe that a witness wasn’t truthful in their testimony. One of the responsibilities of your trial lawyer is to cross-examine and contest untruthful statements when they occur at trial. If the jury chose to believe their side over yours, then that in itself cannot be appealed unless you are able to show that a legal mistake caused an improper verdict. Damage award amounts are often appealed, but the award amount will only be changed if you can demonstrate that the award was not in line with the law and other similar cases. If you made a settlement agreement and later changed your mind, then that is not something that you can appeal unless you can demonstrate that you were misled by the opposing party, your attorney, or the judge when you made your decision.
The Importance of Having an Experienced Appeals Lawyer on Your Side
Most trial attorneys have never handled an appeal during their entire legal careers. This is because appeals are a specific area of law that requires focus, practice, and time. The caseloads of an appellate lawyer and a trial lawyer are different as appellate lawyers often take a limited number of cases so they can properly focus and work on each one individually. Appellate briefs are lengthy and must include a table of contents, a list of relevant cases and authorities, a summary of facts, and a legal analysis of the facts and the law.
While you may have multiple reasons to want to appeal, it is important to narrow your issues to the ones that can help overturn the trial verdict. An experienced appeals attorney will help you target specific legal issues and formulate legal arguments that can make a difference. An appeal is likely your last opportunity to change the outcome of your personal injury case. Since you only get one shot at an appeal, it is important to have an experienced appellate attorney on your side to give you the best chance at success.
John Reeves; Reeves Law
As an appellate specialist, John Reeves provides consulting services to trial attorneys about preserving matters for appeal and drafting dispositive motions. His practice also includes serving as defense counsel in civil matters, including constitutional matters (§1983 litigation), commercial law, personal injury matters, municipal law, employment discrimination, and insurance coverage disputes.
After serving as an Assistant Missouri Attorney General for over six years, John entered private practice in 2015, opening his own firm in 2019. He has personally authored over 250 appellate briefs and has conducted oral arguments in all three districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals, the Missouri Supreme Court, and the federal Eighth Circuit. In addition, Mr. Reeves has personally authored both certiorari petitions and applications for extraordinary relief before the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Reeves has also written numerous dispositive motions in both federal and state court.
In October 2019, Mr. Reeves co-founded the Missouri Bar’s Appellate Practice Committee, the first statewide organization in Missouri devoted to furthering professional development for attorneys in appellate matters. He presently serves as the committee’s co-chair.
Contact Reeves Law today to schedule an appointment to discuss your appeal or to have him sit in on your current trial and case.