We receive many calls from clients who have previously instructed another law firm or claims company to manage their personal injury claim which has resulted in no compensation or too little compensation being awarded. Many claimants are confused as to whether they have the right to appeal an unsatisfactory decision.
The answer is yes; however, it does depend on the circumstances of your case and why you did not receive the result you desired.
The first thing to remember when discussing appeals is most personal injury cases are settled outside of court. Litigation is stressful and expensive; therefore, an experienced personal injury solicitor will try and ensure their client’s claim is settled at the Pre-action Protocol stage by way of alternative disputes resolution (for example negotiation) or via a Part 36 offer.
However, in some cases, especially those involving catastrophic workplace injuries, whereby the victim requires lifelong medical care and support, litigation is inevitable. And unfortunately, when it comes to court, there is a winner and a loser, and this is decided by the judge who presides over the trial.
The law provides that in a personal injury claim, an appeal may be made based on the case being dismissed because the defendant’s liability for the claimant’s injury has not been proven or the damages awarded were insufficient.
Permission to appeal must be sought. Refusing permission to appeal allows courts to dispose of any applications which show no real prospect of success. Therefore, to be granted leave to appeal, you will need to establish that the judge’s decision was wrong or reached unjustly through a procedural error or another type of mistake.
Leave to appeal will normally only be granted if the appeal has a good chance of succeeding or there is another persuasive reason, such as the case being of significant public interest or if it involves a complex matter of law.
The procedure for appealing a personal injury case
The appeals process in civil claims is directed by rule 52 of the Civil Procedure Rules. The appellant must file an Appellant’s Notice in the court directly above the one that handed down the decision they are appealing. For example, if the decision was made by a County Court Circuit judge you can appeal to the High Court. If the High Court decided your case, an appeal can be made to the Court of Appeal.
The Appellant’s Notice must be lodged with the appellant court within 21 days of the lower court decision. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, this rule is unlikely to be deviated from.
The decision-making process of the appellant court
If permission to appeal is granted, the appellant will deliver their argument to the court regarding why the first-instance decision was wrong or unjust.
It is possible to present fresh evidence in an appeal; however, certain criteria, established in the case of Ladd v Marshall  3 All ER 745, normally need to be satisfied. The criteria are:
- the evidence could not have been obtained with reasonable diligence
- the evidence would have had an important influence on the trial
- the evidence is credible
It is important to note that even if the above criteria are satisfied, the court has discretion to disallow new evidence in an appeal.
The appellant court may request fresh evidence if required to meet the overriding objective of dealing with the case justly, and if the matter is one of public interest.
The appellant court can approve, vary, or overturn a lower court’s judgment or order a re-trial. Instructions can also be made regarding costs and interest.
Appeals in personal injury cases can and do occur. However, obtaining permission to appeal and conducting the appeal itself can be time-consuming and expensive. It is therefore imperative that you discuss your options with an experienced personal injury solicitor who will advise you whilst taking into account the best interests of you and your family.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims and can advise you on appeals and/or provide a second opinion. If you have suffered a workplace injury and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.