How expensive is an appeal?

You’ve just paid out large sums of money for a full civil trial. You’re afraid to look at the bill from your your attorney and the judgment amount makes you cringe. While you may be ready to throw in the towel and make the necessary payment arrangements, there may be one more step to take if you feel you’ve been robbed of a fair verdict. The question is, how much will it cost to appeal your case?

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Should I appeal the trial court’s decision in my case?

The decision to appeal a case rests on several factors. The most realistic factor to consider is the extended length of time the case will consume and the emotional strain you will experience if you appeal. On average, most civil cases take two to three years for completion in the courts. An appeal will typically take another full year, and might not receive the verdict desired.

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Reasons to Appeal Your Court Decision

The first compelling reason that always justifies an appeal is a mistake with the gathering, use or acceptance of critical evidence. Secondly, if the judge gives the jury the wrong instructions and the jury brings back a verdict based on those wrong instructions, then it is essential that you appeal. Third, if the verdict awarded is inequitably large and impossible for you as the defendant to pay, then you should appeal.

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What are some factors that influence a decision to appeal?

The objective of the appeal should be an important factor in deciding on an appeal. Is your goal to seek a new trial? Is it to reduce the amount of damages? Is it to buy time? Is it to establish a new legal principle? Or, are you seeking leverage for some compromise or settlement arrangement? As it is quite common for the winning party to discount slightly a judgment or to agree not to collect court costs in order to persuade the loser not to appeal, you may be able to benefit should you negotiate not to appeal.

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What should I do before deciding to appeal or not?

The first thought after hearing the final judgment in any trial is to expect the “winning” side to be celebrating and the “losing” side to appeal the decision. But the calculus involved in the decision to appeal can often be more complex than this. For many parties, not every loss is worth appealing, and sometimes a “winner” may feel they should have been awarded more. To add to the considerations, appeals are often not simple or free, and hiring an experienced appeals lawyer – which is your best chance of winning on appeal – may end up costing even more than the original trial.

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