Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Construction Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Premises Liability
St. Louis
Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
Car Accidents
Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Construction Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
Dangerous Drugs
Defective Products
Chemical Exposure

Appeals in Civil Cases Explained [2024 Guide]

Use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a Civil Lawsuit Claim.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An Overview of Appeals in Civil Cases

On this page, we’ll discuss appeals in civil cases, the purpose of the appeals court, how appeals fit into trial court proceedings, complexities and nuances of the appeals process, and much more.

What Are Appeals in Civil Lawsuits?

In civil litigation, appeals refer to the process by which a party dissatisfied with a lower court’s decision seeks to have that decision reviewed by a higher court.

Appeals allow parties to challenge legal errors and procedural mistakes made by the lower court.

Appeals play a critical role in upholding the integrity of the legal system and providing parties with an opportunity to seek redress if they believe the lower court’s decision was incorrect.

appeals in civil cases; civil case appeal; civil court appeal; appealing in court; civil lawsuit appeal; civil lawsuit process

The appellate court reviews the lower court’s decision and determines whether the lower court made any errors that warrant a reversal, modification, or affirmation of the lower court’s decision.

Both parties typically submit legal briefs outlining their arguments during the appeal process.

Their respective attorneys may present oral arguments before the appellate judges.

The appellate court then issues a written opinion explaining its decision, which may affirm, reverse, or modify the lower court’s decision.

Appeals in civil litigation are distinct from trials as they focus on reviewing the legal and procedural aspects of the case rather than re-litigating the facts.

The purpose of appeals is to ensure that the law is applied correctly, errors are corrected, and justice is served.

If you’re dealing with severe complications in your civil lawsuit, our civil lawsuit lawyers at TorHoerman Law can help.

Contact us now or use our chatbot to instantly find out if you qualify for an appeal.

Table of Contents

Purposes and Benefits of the Appeals Process

The appeals process is necessary to ensure a fair judgment from the judge or verdict from the jury.

This process gives the losing party a fighting chance to ensure their case went through a reasonable court decision.

Appeals serve several purposes and offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Review of Errors: The primary purpose of appeals is to review the legal and procedural errors made by the lower court. If the appellate court finds that the trial court’s judgment was based on incorrect legal principles or procedural mistakes, it may overturn the decision.
  • Clarification of Law: The appellate court’s written opinion provides guidance and clarity on applying legal principles to a particular case. This correction helps establish a precedent for future cases, promoting consistency in the law.
  • Ensuring Fairness: Appeals ensure that both parties are given a fair chance to present their case and have it reviewed by impartial judges. This process ensures that the case outcome is based on legal principles rather than biases or prejudices.
  • Resolution of Complex Legal Issues: Sometimes, the trial court’s decision may involve complex legal issues that require further review by a higher court. Appeals provide a means to resolve these complex issues and ensure fair and consistent application of the law.
  • Finality and Certainty: The appellate court’s decision provides finality and certainty to the parties involved. This certainty allows them to move forward without the lingering uncertainty of a lower court’s ruling.

Circumstances When Appeals Are Applicable

The option to raise the case to the appellate courts opens up when the trial court decision has been implemented.

Some examples of when appeals may be applicable in civil litigation include:

  • Disputes Over Legal Interpretation: When there’s disagreement over the interpretation or application of the law, either party may seek an appeal to clarify the legal principles at stake.
  • Allegations of Procedural Errors: If one party believes that the lower court made procedural errors that affected the case’s outcome, they may appeal to have those errors reviewed.
  • Claims of Judicial Bias or Misconduct: If a party believes that the judge in the lower court exhibited bias or engaged in misconduct that unfairly influenced the outcome of the case, they may seek an appeal.
  • Disagreement With the Outcome: Simply disagreeing with the case’s outcome is generally insufficient grounds for an appeal. However, if the party can identify legal errors or other grounds for appeal, they may seek a review of the decision.

It’s worth reiterating that seeking appeals won’t open a new trial.

These post-trial motions are meant to question and attempt to overturn the final decision.

Key Stages of the Appeals Process

The appeal process contains several stages that a party must navigate to seek a review or reversal of the lower court’s decision and will generally start with a notice of appeal drafted by the requesting party’s attorney and filed with the trial court clerk.

Navigating the appeals process is a crucial step for a party seeking to challenge a trial court’s decision, relying on an attorney’s expertise to guide the journey through the appellate court system.

The key stages of the appeals process include:

  • Notice of Appeal
  • Preparation of the Record on Appeal
  • Appellate Briefs
  • Oral Arguments
  • Appellate Court Decision
  • Further Appeals

Notice of Appeal

The appeals process typically begins with filing a notice of appeal by the party seeking review of the lower court’s decision.

This notice informs the court and the opposing party of the intention to appeal.

The notice of appeal must usually be filed within a specified time frame, which varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case.

The defendant has 14 days from the entry of judgment to file a notice of appeal.

The notice of appeal can be filed in federal courts within 30 days.

Failure to file the notice of appeal within the prescribed time limit may result in waiving the right to appeal.

Your attorney can help you draft and file the notice of appeal within the required timeframe to avoid this consequence.

Preparation of the Record on Appeal

Once the notice of appeal is filed, the next step is preparing the record on appeal.

This record includes:

  • All relevant documents,
  • Transcripts
  • Exhibits
  • Briefs submitted by both parties
  • Evidence presented during the trial
  • Rulings from the lower or district court proceedings.

The party appealing the decision, known as the appellant, is responsible for compiling and organizing the record on appeal.

This process may involve:

  • Obtaining transcripts of hearings
  • Orders
  • Judgments
  • Pleadings
  • Other documents from the lower court.

The record on appeal is essential for the appellate court to review the case and understand the issues raised by the parties.

It’s worth reminding that the court of appeals challenges the legal decision of the trial judge or jury, not the case facts.

Appellate Briefs

After the record on appeal is prepared, the appellant submits an appellate brief outlining the legal arguments and issues raised on appeal.

The brief presents the appellant’s position, cites relevant legal authority, and explains why the lower court’s decision should be reversed or modified.

The appellee, or the party opposing the appeal, then has the opportunity to file a responsive brief.

This brief addresses the arguments raised by the appellant and defends the lower court’s decision.

In some jurisdictions, the appellant may have the opportunity to file a reply brief, which responds to the arguments raised in the appellee’s brief.

In other jurisdictions, the appeals court opens the case to oral arguments.

Oral Arguments

In many appellate courts, oral arguments are scheduled after the submission of appellate briefs.

During oral arguments, attorneys for both parties can present their case and respond to questions from the appellate judges.

The court arranges an oral argument to clarify the positions of opposing parties, highlight key points, and address any concerns the judges raise.

While oral arguments are not always required, they allow the parties to advocate for their positions and engage directly with the appellate judges.

Your lawyer will ultimately determine if oral arguments are necessary for your case and will prepare accordingly.

Some instances when an oral argument is unnecessary include:

  • The case’s legal issues are straightforward and only require a review of the written briefs.
  • The judges don’t have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed through oral arguments.
  • One party wants to present newly discovered evidence.

Appellate Court Decision

The appellate court reviews the case and decides using a thorough and systematic process.

The appellate judges begin by reviewing the record on appeal.

These include:

  • All relevant documents
  • Transcripts
  • Exhibits
  • Rulings from the proceedings in the lower court.

The appellate judges carefully analyze the legal arguments presented in the appellate briefs and verbal arguments by both the appellant and the appellee.

The judge reviews the relevant statutes, case law, and legal principles to determine whether the lower court’s decision was correct based on the applicable law.

After thoroughly reviewing the record, analyzing the legal arguments, and considering any oral arguments presented, the appellate judges deliberate to reach a decision.

Judges decisions can include:

  • The court may affirm the lower court’s decision, meaning it agrees with the decision and legal reasoning of the trial court.
  • Alternatively, the court may reverse or modify the lower court’s decision if it finds that there were errors in law that affected the outcome of the case.
  • In some cases, the appellate judges may remand (send back) a case to a lower court for further proceedings due to factual disputes or new evidence.

Further Appeals

Either party may have the right to seek further review of the appellate court’s decision in certain cases.

This process may involve requesting a rehearing by the same appellate court, seeking review by a higher appellate court, such as a state supreme court or the U.S. Supreme Court, or pursuing other avenues of appeal available under the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest and final federal court with the power to review decisions made by lower federal and state courts.

The Supreme Court has discretion over which cases it chooses to hear.

The availability of further appeals depends on various factors, including the jurisdiction, the nature of the case, and the issues involved.

Pursuing further appeals will require more time, effort, and legal fees.

The Complexities and Nuances of the Appeals Process

The appeals process is inherently complex and nuanced, involving intricate legal analysis and procedural considerations.

The appeal court only deals with issues involving applications of the law.

Factual errors, such as those involving new evidence or misrepresentation of facts, open the possibility of a new case and having the prior decision sustained.

Appellate courts apply different review standards depending on the nature of the legal issues raised on appeal.

Questions of law are typically reviewed “de novo,” meaning the appellate court conducts an independent review without deference to the lower court’s decision.

The appeals process is characterized by its complexity, reliance on legal analysis, and emphasis on effective legal writing and argumentation.

Attorneys engaged in appellate practice must possess a deep understanding of the law, strong advocacy skills, and the ability to navigate the intricacies of the appellate process to represent their clients’ interests effectively.

The Importance of Effective Legal Writing and Argumentation

Because of the complicated nature of the appeals process, lawyers handling such cases have exceptional argumentative and communication skills.

The primary goal of appellate advocacy is to convince the appellate judges to rule in favor of the client.

Effective legal writing and argumentation are essential tools for achieving this goal.

Attorneys must craft compelling arguments and briefs that clearly and persuasively present their client’s position, supported by relevant legal authority and persuasive reasoning.

Well-written appellate briefs enhance the attorney’s credibility and their client’s case.

Attorneys who demonstrate a thorough understanding of the law, present cogent arguments, and support their assertions with credible legal authority are more likely to be taken seriously by the appellate judges.

Effective legal writing anticipates and addresses potential counterarguments and weaknesses in the client’s case.

Attorneys must present their strongest arguments and foresee, acknowledge, and respond to opposing arguments and authorities.

The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation

The importance of having the best legal representative throughout your case, not just in the appeals process, can’t be overstated.

An experienced civil litigation attorney will know when you have a winning chance in appeals and strategize the steps toward a favorable outcome.

Here’s how an experienced representative can help:

  • Understanding Complex Legal Issues: Experienced appellate attorneys have a deep understanding of legal principles, statutes, and case law, enabling them to identify and analyze complex legal issues effectively. These professionals can navigate the intricacies of appellate law and craft arguments that address the nuances of the case.
  • Knowledge of Appellate Procedure: Appellate procedure differs significantly from trial court proceedings. Experienced appellate attorneys are well-versed in appellate rules, proceedings, and practices. The experts understand the specific requirements for filing notices of appeal, preparing appellate briefs, presenting oral arguments, and navigating the appellate court system.
  • Strategic Decision-Making: Experienced appellate attorneys can assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case and develop a strategic approach to the appeal. Attorneys can identify which legal issues are most likely to succeed on appeal, prioritize arguments accordingly, and determine the most effective strategy for presenting the case to the appellate court.
  • Effective Legal Writing and Argumentation: Appellate advocacy requires solid legal writing and argumentation skills. Experienced appellate attorneys are adept at crafting clear, concise, and persuasive appellate briefs that effectively communicate the client’s position to the appellate judges.
  • Navigating Precedent and Legal Authority: Precedent and legal authority play a significant role in appellate decision-making. Experienced attorneys can effectively analyze precedent, distinguish unfavorable authority, and identify persuasive legal arguments that support the client’s position.
  • Minimizing Procedural Errors: Procedural errors can have dire consequences in appellate proceedings, potentially resulting in the waiver or forfeiture of critical legal arguments. Experienced appellate attorneys are meticulous in preparing and reviewing appellate documents to ensure compliance with procedural requirements.

TorHoerman Law: Talk to Our Civil Litigation Attorneys

Not many defendants or plaintiffs know they have the right to appeal their case.

Many decide not to pursue this process due to the complexities involved or lack of confidence in their attorney’s ability to navigate it successfully.

The key to a successful appeal is having experienced and knowledgeable legal representation.

At TorHoerman Law, our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in various civil litigation matters.

We understand the complexities and nuances of the appeals process and have a proven track record of successfully navigating the appellate courts to achieve favorable client results.

Contact us today for a free consultation if you believe the jury trial or lower court’s decision was incorrect.

You can also use our chatbot for a fast case qualification.

Our team is dedicated to fighting for justice for our clients and pursuing all available avenues of legal recourse to protect their rights and interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What initiates the appeals process in a civil case?

    The initiation of the appeals process in civil cases occurs when the losing party disagrees with the trial court’s decision and seeks a review.

    This party, now the appellant, files a notice of appeal with the trial court, challenging the judgment on legal grounds.

    This notice is a crucial first step that signals the appellant’s intention to contest the trial court’s judgment and outlines the basis for appeal.

    The appeal aims to have a higher court, such as an appellate court or the supreme court, reevaluate the trial court proceedings for any legal errors that may have impacted the trial’s outcome.

  • How does the appellate court review a civil case appeal?

    During the review of a civil case appeal, appellate courts engage in a thorough examination of the appeal’s legal merits based on the trial court’s record, including transcripts, evidence, and the judge’s rulings.

    The review process primarily focuses on written briefs prepared by both the appellant and the appellee (the party opposing the appeal), which argue their respective sides of the case.

    These briefs present legal arguments, cite relevant case law, and aim to persuade the appellate judges of their position.

    Oral arguments may be requested by either party or the court itself to clarify points of law or facts, offering both sides a brief opportunity to present their case directly to the judges.

    The appellate court’s task is to determine if there were legal errors significant enough to affect the trial’s outcome, not to retry the case or review new evidence.

  • What can I expect from the outcome of a civil case appeal?

    From a civil case appeal, parties can expect one of several outcomes.

    The appellate court may affirm the trial court’s decision, letting the original verdict stand if no significant legal errors are found.

    The court may alternatively reverse the decision, finding in favor of the appellant, which can lead to various consequences including a remand to the lower court for a new trial or specific court actions.

    In cases where the appellate court finds that crucial errors were made that affected the judgment, it may remand the case with instructions for the trial court to correct these errors, possibly through conducting a new trial.

    Each of these outcomes directly impacts the parties involved, potentially altering the legal and financial consequences of the trial court’s decision.

  • Are there any deadlines I should be aware of when filing an appeal in a civil case?

    Strict filing deadlines are crucial in the appeals process.

    These vary by jurisdiction but generally start from the date the trial court’s decision is entered.

    Failing to meet these deadlines can result in forfeiting the right to appeal.

    Beyond the initial notice of appeal, there are further deadlines for submitting appellate briefs, completing the briefing schedule, and other procedural requirements.

    These timelines are enforced to ensure an efficient appeal process, and parties are advised to consult with their attorneys to adhere to these critical deadlines meticulously.

  • Can new evidence be introduced during the appeals process in a civil case?

    The introduction of new evidence is not allowed during the appeals process in civil cases, as appellate courts review the trial based on the record established in the trial court, focusing on legal arguments rather than factual disputes.

    The appeals process is designed to identify and correct legal errors rather than to reconsider the facts of the case.

    Under very specific circumstances, such as a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence that could not have been reasonably found before the trial, the courts may consider additional evidence.

    These instances are rare and governed by strict legal criteria to ensure fairness and the integrity of the judicial process.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

Do You
Have A Case?

Here, at TorHoerman Law, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

Since 2009, we have successfully collected over $4 Billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured individuals.

Would you like our help?

About TorHoerman Law

At TorHoerman Law, we believe that if we continue to focus on the people that we represent, and continue to be true to the people that we are – justice will always be served.

Do you believe you’re entitled to compensation?

Use our Instant Case Evaluator to find out in as little as 60 seconds!

$20 Million
Toxic Tort Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $20 Million for our client after they suffered a Toxic Tort Injury due to chemical exposure.

$103.8 Million
COX-2 Inhibitors Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $103.8 Million for our client after they suffered a COX-2 Inhibitors Injury.

$4 Million
Traumatic Brain Injury

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $4 Million for our client after they suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury while at daycare.

$2.8 Million
Defective Heart Device

In this case, we were able to successfully recover $2.8 Million for our client after they suffered an injury due to a Defective Heart Device.

Guides & Resources
Do You
Have A Case?

Here, at TorHoerman Law, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

Since 2009, we have successfully collected over $4 Billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured individuals.

Would you like our help?


Related Guides

What Our Clients Have To Say