It can be disappointing to go through the civil process for legal recourse after a car crash, only for it to end with a disappointing verdict. Fortunately, if there were legal issues present in your trial, you may be eligible to appeal.
However, appealing a car accident case in Altoona often requires the skill of a well-practiced lawyer. Therefore, you should not hesitate to reach out to an Altoona car wreck attorney right away.
There are specific rules of appellate procedure that have very strict time requirements and steps that must be followed. Typically, before an appeal is taken, there first has to be a post-trial motion filed with the trial court, asking to correct an error that was made either in the verdict or an error that occurred during the trial. This will give the trial court an opportunity to correct the error. After that, then an appeal can be filed.
In Altoona, most appeals from car wreck cases are filed with the Pennsylvania Superior Court. If the case involves a governmental party, such as the Department of Transportation, a public-school district, or a municipality such as a borough, city or township, then the appeal is heard by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rather than the Superior Court.
Upon appeal, there will be a review of the record, the trial transcript, and all of the pleadings that were filed with the court. The appeals court will also hear oral arguments from each party’s lawyer as to whether the trial court made an error that resulted in prejudice to one party or another.
Generally, there cannot be multiple appeals taken. In other words, there is only one opportunity for appeal and the appeals court will make its ruling on the issues that were raised.
Depending on what was awarded at the original trial, one party taking the appeal might claim that the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence. If the appeals court finds that the jury did not properly review the evidence, then the court could send the case back for a new trial to revisit the amount of the award.
More often than not, however, the original finding by the trial court or by the jury will be validated or affirmed on appeal. This is because appellate courts are unlikely to invade the province of the jury and undo what the court already did.
Appealing an auto accident in Altoona could take a year or two from the time the appellant documents are filed. A party taking the appeal will have to assemble what is called the reproduced record, which is a compilation of every document that was filed in the court, every piece of evidence that was shown at the trial, and the trial transcript for the appeals court to review. In addition to reviewing these records, an appeals court may hold oral argument to hear arguments regarding the legal issues. After oral arguments, the appellate court will issue a decision to uphold or reverse the trial court’s decision. Therefore, these cases often can be very time consuming.
Pennsylvania has three levels of court. The first level is the Trial Court where the case was filed and where the trial occurs. Then the second level is the Pennsylvania Superior Court or the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in the case of governmental parties. Once either the Pennsylvania Superior Court or the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court renders a ruling on the appeal, the party that lost on appeal could request that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court review the case by filing a petition for allocatur. This petition asks the Supreme Court to hear the case because it presents a novel issue of law.
However, the Supreme Court only accepts a very small number of appeals each year. They have discretion as to whether or not to take a case and the vast majority of the time the Supreme Court will decline the previous case. This means that the ruling of the appeals court is typically the final ruling. People in Altoona who lost an appeal of their car accident case should consider speaking with a local attorney to discuss their options.
Appealing a car accident case in Altoona is a long process that requires experienced legal professionals. If you believe there was a legal issue in your trial regarding your vehicle collision, contact the office of Marcus & Mack to discuss whether the appellate process is right for you. Your first consultation is always free.