Learn everything you need to know about personal injury appeals in Florida!
If you were seriously injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you are legally entitled to seek monetary compensation to cover the costs of your injuries (both the quantifiable, or economic, costs you suffered, such as having to pay for surgery or taking time off work, and the non-quantifiable, or non-economic, costs of your injuries, such as the pain you experienced because of the injuries).
However, recovering that monetary compensation is not always easy. Insurance companies will always fight to withhold the full amount that you deserve, because this protects their bottom line. They will usually attempt to either deny your claim outright or devalue the settlement they offer, which is why any injured accident victim should always seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to advocate for maximum compensation on their behalf, either through negotiations or in court.
When a case goes to trial, however, the outcome may be unpredictable – a judge or a jury will decide whether or not you get paid at all, and if so, how much. If you lose your personal injury case, or if you are not satisfied with the amount you were awarded, it’s not over yet, though. You may be able to appeal your personal injury verdict and change the outcome!
What is an appeal?
A personal injury appeal is an official request made to have a higher court change or reverse the decision that a lower court has ruled. Note that an appeal is not a request to have an entirely different trial; an appeal is rather a review of whether or not the law was applied correctly during the initial trial. There is usually no presentation of evidence, no witness testimony, and no jury. Personal injury appeals are not automatically granted, as there is a process to gain an appellate hearing and a motion can be filed to dismiss the appeal request.
When are appeals not an option?
If your personal injury case was resolved via settlement, meaning you legally agreed to a mutually acceptable monetary amount out of court with the insurance company or the party you are seeking damages from, your case is closed, and you are probably not going to be able to appeal it. Settlements nearly always contain clauses that prevent plaintiffs (victims) from taking new legal action against the defendant in connection to the accident. That is why it is so important not to settle until you have spoken with an attorney who can tell you the true value of your case and knows what negotiation tactics are necessary to procure a fair settlement.
Appealing a court’s decision is also not an option if you are doing so just because you are unhappy with the outcome. There has to be a valid, legal error or omission in your case in order for there to be solid grounds for personal injury appeal. For example, the court wouldn’t allow evidence that should have been permissible or your expert witness wasn’t allowed to testify. A skilled, experienced attorney can help you understand whether or not you do have a chance at a successful appeal and if not, what your other options may be.
What is the process like in Florida?
First, you or your attorney (it is strongly recommended that you have an attorney represent you in this matter) must file a notice of appeal with the court where the verdict was made within 30 days after a decision was handed down. Then your lawyer obtains a record on appeal from the trial court clerk, which is a collection of documents consisting of each paper the clerk filed during your case, as well as transcripts. Your lawyer will look to find legal errors, and if there were any made, they will file an initial brief explaining the error and advocating for a different outcome. Next, you await the answer brief; the other side will respond and has a chance to argue. You have a chance to file a reply brief and answer their arguments. In some cases, your attorney may request to schedule an oral argument, where the attorneys on both sides appear before a three-judge panel to argue the briefs in person. Then it is up to the appellate court to make a decision. If they affirm the original court’s decision, you may still have the option to appeal to a higher court. In Florida, there are 5 district courts of appeal.
How expensive is the appeals process?
Appealing a court’s decision does come with extra costs and fees. The first filing fee is with the lower court and is typically around $100, and the second filing fee is made to the reviewing appellate court and is $300. This charge may be waived depending on your financial situation or your attorney. Because the personal injury appeals process drags your case on for additional weeks or months, if you are working with an attorney, this can mean that you end up paying them more money for their time and expertise. However, most personal injury lawyers charge on contingency, so you may not have to pay them until you recover.
Schedule a free consultation
At The Florida Law Group, we’re confident in our ability to win your case and secure the maximum damages you deserve for your injuries – to date, we’ve recovered over $1 billion dollars for our clients, and we’re ranked in the top 1% of personal injury law firms nationwide. However, if your case does go to trial and there were legal errors made, or if you were with another law firm and didn’t get the just result, we have the experience necessary to make a successful case for a favorable personal injury appeal! We never give up until you have been paid. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys and learn your legal options! We have offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Orlando, Miami, New Port Richey, Plant City, Brandon, Largo, Wesley Chapel, and in other locations in Florida for your convenience.