When a party loses their case at trial, they have the option to appeal the result to a higher court. In an appeal, the court will review the facts and arguments of your legal claim and determine whether the lower court was correct in their ruling.
No new evidence is permitted if you appeal your case—you have to stick to the same evidence that was used in the lower-level court in most cases.
How does an appeal court decide whether to reverse a case?
The Georgia Court of Appeals will generally only reverse the lower court if that court’s ruling was incorrect based on the law, or it misunderstood some important fact.
The Court of Appeals has several “standards of review” that it uses in appeals. This standard determines how much deference that it will give to the lower court’s decision. These standards vary depending on the nature of the case and the particular issue that you are appealing. They include:
- Abuse of discretion. This standard is a difficult one to get past. It essentially says that the lower court has considerable leeway in its decision on a particular issue, and the Court of Appeals will only reverse the lower court if there is some blatant error.
- Clear abuse of discretion. This standard is even more challenging to overcome. There must be some very serious, glaring error that occurred. This standard very similar to another standard often referred to as “clearly erroneous.”
- “De novo.” This Latin phrase means “from the new.” For cases involving this standard, the Court of Appeals will give very little deference to the lower court’s decision and will review the facts and law all over again. But, keep in mind that the Court of Appeals performs this review with the facts and information that were submitted to the lower court at trial.
- “Any evidence.” This standard applies to findings of fact. It gives great deference to the lower court, and the Court of Appeals will affirm the trial court if there is “any evidence” of the fact that the trial court decided.
There are other standards of review, but these are the most common. Because the lower court is the only one that saw witnesses and watched the presentation of evidence, an appeals court will defer to the court more often than not on findings of fact. But, the Court of Appeals won’t provide that same deference to the lower court on conclusions of law.
In other words, some types of appeals are very hard to win, while others have a better chance—and it always depends at least in part on what you believe the lower court got wrong (and what evidence you or your attorney have for that).
If you want to know whether it’s a good idea to appeal a court decision, you need to speak to an attorney who has experience appealing cases in Georgia.
Talk to a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been involved in an accident, you need to speak with an attorney about your legal options. You must get through a trial before you have to start thinking about an appeal. John Foy & Associates can help you with this process. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.