If you are a property owner who is embroiled in a legal dispute with a contractor, a construction attorney can help you resolve your case without having to go through the costly and time-consuming litigation process. The lawyers representing both parties attempt to negotiate a settlement. If we cannot reach a settlement with the other party’s attorney, we will not hesitate to take your case in front of a civil court judge.
A construction attorney handles cases that involve the negligence committed by a contractor, which falls under the legal services category of business and commercial law. To prove negligence, your construction attorney must prove the contractor had a duty of care to finish the project on time and within the budget. Your construction lawyer then demonstrates the contractor breached the duty of care doctrine and the breach caused you to lose money and/or endure damage to your property.
If your case goes to trial and the judge hearing the case decides in favor of the contractor, should you file an appeal? A widespread misconception about appeals is that they are always necessary after the issuance of an unfavorable judicial decision. However, the reason for the misconception is many property owners do not understand the purpose of an appeal.
The Purpose of an Appeal
An appeal does not unfold like the original trial. Your construction attorney does not submit evidence or question witnesses under oath. Instead, the purpose of an appeal of a civil trial decision is to determine whether the judge overseeing the original trial committed one or more evidential, procedural, or legal application errors. For example, ruling against the submission of valid physical evidence might be considered an evidential error. Most errors committed during a civil trial wrongly influence the outcome of the original trial.
The panel of appellate judges hearing an appeal of a contractor dispute can issue three decisions. First, they can verify the validity of the decision handed down at the end of the original civil trial. Second, they can reverse the decision made by the judge based on the discovery of one or more errors. Thirds, the panel of appellate judges has the legal power to send the case back to trial for litigation. If your appeal is approved and your case moves to a second trial, your construction lawyer has a second chance to present persuasive physical evidence and obtain witness accounts.
Overview of a Civil Appeal
After a civil trial that does not go in your favor, the construction lawyer representing you prepares to file an appeal. You are referred to as the appellant or the petitioner. The contractor is called the appellee or respondent. Your construction lawyer files a notice of appeal, which initiates legal action that involves the filing of a brief. A brief represents a written argument that contains the reasons why the appellant seeks to overturn the original judicial decision. The contractor has a limited amount of time to file an answer to the appellant’s brief.