A less than favorable verdict from a judge or jury can be disheartening, especially for small businesses with few assets to pay the other party compensation with. While you can’t appeal a decision just based on the fact that you don’t like it, there are certain instances where an appeal to a higher court is appropriate, such as a violation of constitutional rights, use of inadmissible evidence, improper jury instruction, or other legal errors. Keep in mind, appealing the verdict means a longer drawn out process, possibly more legal fees, and rarely are judges’ decisions overturned. If you still wish to appeal the court’s decision in your case, you will need to follow the steps below.
- File appeal paperwork. After talking with a lawyer and believing your case merits an appeal, you will need to file the Notice of Appeal Form from the district court within 30 days of the initial verdict. If it’s an unemployment related case, you only have 21 days to file the appeal. You can obtain a form at your local government building or on their official website, and you may return it in person, through fax, or in the mail.
- Prepare for your case. Preparing for an appeal is a little bit different that preparing for the first case. For the appeal you will need to gather all documentation and applicable laws that prove the case was improperly handled or the judge made an error with their decision. These, along with your brief arguments will be presented to the appellate court for review.
- Accept verdict, retrial, or further appeal. The appellate court can uphold the original judge’s decision, overturn the verdict, or order a retrial based on the evidence presented. In the event that they request a retrial, you will have to go back to court and face the process all over again. If they uphold the judge’s decision, you can keep appealing all the way to your state’s Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court only hears cases it deems worthy, so your case may never be accepted. This is only recommended if you believe your case merits a change in the law or the compensation amount is great enough to cause substantial harm to your business.
- Accept the final verdict. Whether your case climbs all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, or stays within your region, eventually a final verdict will be made. If that verdict is not in your favor, you will have to pay the plaintiff for damages as well as your attorney fees. If you neglect to pay the plaintiff, they can use a bank levy, wage garnishment, or real estate lien on you until you pay them in full. It is recommended that you pay as quickly as possible to avoid undue stress and penalties.
Lawsuits are a pain, especially ones involving the complexity of business. The sooner you hire an attorney to represent you and your business, the better off you’ll likely be at the end, win or lose. Not everyone qualifies for an appeal, and there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding to do so. A lawyer’s advice and counsel will help you better understand the process as well as advocate in your best interest.