Trial court vs. appellate court: Know the differences
Personal Injury - November 9, 2023
Settling a dispute may require filing a lawsuit and going to court. Understanding the differences between trial vs appellate courts in Chicago will prepare you for this process. Many cases are resolved before they go to court, but settling a dispute requires the case to move through the courts in a specific order.
When an injury victim and the insurance company cannot agree on the terms of a settlement, a lawsuit is filed. Working with a knowledgeable Chicago personal injury attorney allows you to more easily navigate the court system and become aware of the difference between trial and appellate courts.
Cases begin in trial courts
Both civil and criminal cases begin in the trial courts. This court will have a trial judge who oversees the proceedings and will make rulings on which evidence can and cannot be submitted. After all the evidence and testimonies have been presented, a jury decides the guilt or innocence of a defendant based on the facts presented.
Both sides can present evidence, testimony, and witnesses to support their case,
with most lawsuits being settled in a trial court. All cases proceed through trial court, but not all cases go to appellate court. A party does not decide to take a case to an appellate court because they lost, but a legal basis must exist for an appeal with a possible error in the material presented.
How does an appellate court differ from a trial court?
If either party involved in a trial does not agree with the verdict, they can file an appeal if evidence exists that the trial court did not apply the law appropriately or if bias played a part in the decision of the jury. While trial courts have a jury, appellate courts consist of a panel of judges responsible for reviewing the trial case by examining legal briefs, court records, testimonies, and any other information presented at the trial.
Whether the trial court was conducted according to the law is handed down in a final verdict from the panel. Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates is a robust team of Chicago trial lawyers with outstanding appellate abilities.
What are the main differences between trial courts and appellate courts?
There are several significant differences between trial vs. appellate court and their purposes. One of the essential differences is that a case is not retried when it goes to an appellate court, so no new evidence is considered. The appellate court’s job is to determine if errors occurred in the trial procedure or a judge’s interpretation of the law, which led to the outcome of a case.
An appellate court may determine that even though errors existed, these errors did not produce prejudice or cause an unfair trial, so the ruling is not reversed.
Appellate court vs. trial court: Issues of fact
Trial courts utilize a jury or judge to decide on the facts of a case to determine what happened based on the evidence presented. An appellate court vs. trial court does not make these determinations. An appellate court will look at the law applied to the facts to ensure that the courts applied the law appropriately, if enough evidence was presented for the jury to determine the facts, or if an error was committed by not allowing specific evidence to be submitted.
Trial court vs. appellate court: Case hearings
While trial courts involve one judge who presides over a case, makes decisions alone, and controls the case proceedings, the appellate court in Chicago utilizes a panel of three judges to hear a case, with two forming a majority. The number of judges on the panel can vary.
After hearing the case, the judges will then vote. The party with the majority of votes wins the appeal. One judge voting with the majority will then write an opinion explaining how they came to their decision.
If judges disagree with the majority’s decision, then a dissenting opinion can be written to explain why they feel the majority’s opinion was wrong. Both opinions are published, and even though the dissenting opinion was not the court’s judgment, it can be persuasive in future cases with a similar background.
Trial court vs. appellate court: Decisions
Decisions reached in the trial court process apply to the parties involved in that particular case. However, the findings of appellate courts apply to future trial cases. When an appellate court issues its opinion on issues of law, that opinion will determine future trial court rulings on a law.
Questions of the law impact future trials, not just the appealed case. The impact on future cases is the importance of the appellate courts. They answer questions about how the law functions and if these functions are legal and fair.
Parties in the trial court are ensured a fair trial because of the appellate courts’ work. Though most cases rarely make it to appeals court, their outcome often relies on the decisions made in appellate courts. And testimonials demonstrate that our team is diligent in ensuring personal injury victims receive a fair trial and recover the compensation you need.
We can help you navigate trial and appellate court successfully
Substantial documentation is needed to win a personal injury case. Call (800) 985-1819 for a free consultation and to learn how the dedicated team of personal injury trial lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates will navigate the trial process for you and ensure a solid personal injury case.