If you’ve been involved in a personal injury lawsuit in Baltimore, Maryland, and feel like the outcome was unfair, filing an appeal might be your best option. Appealing a personal injury verdict in Maryland can be a complex process, so having the right legal assistance to navigate the appeals system is essential.
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What is an Appeal, and When Can It Be Filed?
An appeal is a formal disagreement with a court’s decision. The primary purpose of an appeal is to have a higher-level court review the trial court’s ruling. Appeals are designed to address and correct legal errors during the trial, not to retry the case or dispute the jury’s decision.
Make Sure Your Case Has a Final Judgment
Before you can file an appeal, your case must have reached a final judgment. If your case is still ongoing or negotiations are taking place, you cannot appeal. Final decisions are issued by the court after all proceedings in a case have concluded.
Determine Your Basis for Appeal
In Maryland, there are two types of appeals:
- Appeal as a Matter of Right: Some cases automatically qualify for an appeal. In these cases, you can appeal without seeking prior approval from the Appellate Court of Maryland.
- Application for Leave to Appeal: If you don’t have an appeal as a matter of right, you must file an Application for Leave to Appeal with the Appellate Court of Maryland. This is a request to the court, asking them to review your case.
Before moving forward, determine which type of appeal applies to your situation.
Identifying the Correct Appellate Court
Ensure that the Appellate Court of Maryland is the correct court for your appeal. In some instances, appeals from circuit courts may need to be filed with the Supreme Court of Maryland instead.
The Briefing Process
Once you have filed your appeal or application, both the appellant (person filing the appeal) and the appellee (person defending against the appeal) have the chance to submit briefs.
- The appellant files briefs to explain why they disagree with the lower court decision.
- Appellees can also submit briefs in response to the appellants.
- In some cases, oral arguments may be held, but no new evidence or facts can be introduced.
Deadlines for Briefs and Formal Requirements
- The appellant must file a formal brief within 40 days of the Appellate Court of Maryland receiving the case record.
- The appellee may then file a response brief within 30 days after the appellant’s brief is filed.
- If an informal brief is filed, it must be approved by the court or requested through a motion.
- Formal briefs must follow specific formatting, style, and legal writing rules.
- Briefs must be accompanied by a record extract, which helps explain the case history.
After submitting a brief, the Court may call for an oral argument session to further discuss the legal reasoning and answer questions from the judges. This segment of the appeals process can be critical in determining the outcome of the appeal.
Oral arguments provide attorneys with the chance to:
- Speak directly to the judges
- Clarify and stress points in their brief
- Answer questions the judges may have
- Address the opposing party’s argument
Note: Not all appeals have an oral argument session. The Court can rule on the appeal based solely on the written briefs.
How a Lawyer Can Help with an Appeal in Baltimore, Maryland
Having a skilled and experienced lawyer by your side during the appeals process can significantly improve your chances of success. Here are some ways a lawyer can help:
- Evaluation of Errors: Your lawyer can carefully review your case to identify legal errors made during the initial trial that could warrant an appeal.
- Preparation of a Strong Argument for Appeal: A lawyer can help you craft a compelling argument that explains why the original court’s decision should be overturned.
- Persuasive Presentation: Your lawyer can represent you during the appeal hearing and present your arguments concisely and persuasively, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.
- Communicating with the Appellate Court and Opposing Counsel: Your lawyer can handle all communication with the appellate court and opposing counsel, ensuring that the necessary procedures and deadlines are followed.
Tips for a Successful Appeal
- Hire an Experienced Attorney: Your attorney’s expertise can significantly impact your appeal’s outcome. Look for a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases and has a successful track record with appeals.
- Meet Deadlines: There are strict deadlines for filing an appeal, submitting briefs, and other steps in the process. Ensure that you and your attorney are aware of these dates and submit all necessary documents on time.
- Prepare a Persuasive Argument: Your attorney will help you develop a compelling argument for why the trial court’s decision should be overturned.
The appeals process in Baltimore, Maryland, is a vital opportunity to seek justice if you believe your personal injury verdict was unjust.