How To Navigate Virginia’s Appellate Court Process In Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims can be complex, and navigating Virginia’s appellate court process in such cases can be particularly challenging. However, with the right legal guidance, you can appeal an unfavorable ruling and potentially secure a favorable outcome on behalf of your client. This article provides an overview of Virginia’s appellate court process in personal injury claims and offers tips for navigating it successfully.

Understanding the Appellate Process in Virginia

As in other states, Virginia’s appellate process allows a party that has lost a case in lower court to appeal that decision. The appellate court will then review the lower court’s decision to determine whether it was legally sound. During the appeals process, no new evidence can be introduced; instead, the appellate court will consider whether the lower court’s decision was based on sufficient evidence and whether the judge applied the law correctly.

Finality of Lower Court Judgment

Before beginning the appeals process, it is essential to understand that lower court judgments in Virginia are generally considered final. This means that if you do not successfully appeal a lower court decision, your client will likely be bound by that decision.

Filing a Notice of Appeal

To initiate the appeals process in Virginia, you must first file a Notice of Appeal with the appropriate appellate court. In personal injury cases, this typically means the Virginia Court of Appeals (though appeals from certain decisions, such as final judgments in medical malpractice cases, go to the Supreme Court of Virginia).

The Notice of Appeal must be filed within thirty days of the entry of the lower court’s final judgment. Failure to file a Notice of Appeal within this time frame may result in the appellate court refusing to hear the case.

Perfecting the Appeal

Once the Notice of Appeal has been filed, the next step is to perfect the appeal. This involves taking a number of procedural steps designed to create a complete record of the lower court proceedings. Generally speaking, perfecting the appeal involves the following steps:

  • Ordering a transcript of the lower court proceedings
  • Preparing a statement of facts
  • Identifying any errors you believe the lower court made, and arguing why those errors warrant reversal

Crafting a Strong Appellate Argument

Preparing a successful appellate argument requires developing a clear and compelling narrative that establishes why the lower court’s decision was legally unsound. In crafting your argument, you will want to focus on identifying the legal or factual errors you believe the lower court made.

Some common errors that can warrant reversal include:

  • Improper admission of evidence
  • Inappropriate jury instructions
  • Erroneous legal rulings by the judge
  • Misapplication of the law to the facts of the case


While the appellate process can be challenging, navigating it successfully is essential to securing a favorable outcome on behalf of your personal injury clients. By understanding the steps involved and developing a strong appellate argument, you can increase your chances of appealing an unfavorable decision and securing a favorable outcome for your clients.

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