The Importance of Error-Preservation at Trial in Indiana

When a party takes a case to trial and does not get the result they had hoped for, they can sometimes appeal the lower court’s decision to an appellate court to have the case reviewed. Most states, including Indiana, have three levels of courts: trial, intermediate appellate, and supreme. As the name implies, the trial court is where a trial takes place. If a party is not satisfied with a ruling, they may appeal to the intermediate appellate court. If that court finds against the party again, they can file another appeal in the state supreme court. In some very limited and specific circumstances, a party may be able to make one final appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

A court, however, will not hear any issue merely because a party was not satisfied with the ultimate result; there must be some legal issue that is the basis of the appeal. Often, these are evidentiary rulings made by the trial judge.

Trial judges are supposed to follow rules of evidence, which dictate what kinds of evidence are admissible at trial. If evidence that was not supposed to be considered by the jurors is put before the jury, that may result in reversible error. Similarly, if a judge prevents a party from admitting evidence that should have been admitted, that too can qualify as reversible error. However, a party almost always has to “preserve” the error by objecting when the adverse ruling is made.

Preservation of error is important because appellate courts do not overrule lower courts unless the lower court was presented with the exact issue at trial. Thus, if an appellate court is presented with an issue that was raised for the first time on appeal, the party making the argument should be prepared to explain why the argument was not presented below.

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s Appeal Based on Failure to Preserve Alleged Error

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion dismissing a plaintiff’s appeal based on the plaintiff’s failure to object to an alleged error at trial. In the case, Stults v. International Flavors, the plaintiff claimed that the judge made several errors regarding expert witness testimony in a product liability case. However, on appeal, the court refused to consider the plaintiff’s claims because he did not present the lower court with the opportunity to correct the alleged errors.

Have You Been Involved in an Indiana Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Indiana personal injury accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to keep in mind that personal injury cases can be very complicated for a number of reasons, including determining which evidence is admissible and how to get all favorable evidence before the judge or jury. To learn more about Indiana personal injury cases, and to speak with a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney about your case, call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation today.

Related Posts:

Court Upholds Jury’s Zero-Dollar Verdict in Personal Injury Case, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2016

Federal Court of Appeals Rejects Indiana Man’s Claim Against Equipment Company After Crane Accident, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2016

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