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When Is It Too Late to File an Appeal?

It seems like every time we read about a legal decision, whether in a civil or criminal case, the losing party is promising to appeal. And one of the great features of our justice system is that very few decisions are final -- many legal rulings, whether by judges, juries, or administrative officials are subject to review via an appeals process.

But that process can vary depending on the type of case and the kind of appeal being filed. Accordingly, the time limits on when an appeal can be filed with vary as well. So, here's a look at a few types of those appeals, and the deadlines for each:

Appealing a Court Decision or Judgment

The timeline for appealing a court decision will depend on what kind of case, and, sometimes, the kind of court in which the original case and the appeal are being filed. State and federal statutes governing injury lawsuits, contract disputes, and other kinds of litigation will set deadlines for appeals, which can vary from a week or ten days to one to three months.

Administrative Appeals with the USCIS

For example, appeals of immigration decisions must be made within 30 days from the original decision date. Appellants may file a motion to reopen or reconsider in that time, must be filed at the office that made the original decision, and must state new facts that were not provided or available before.

Criminal Appeals

The deadlines for criminal appeals depend on the crimes involved and whether you were convicted of state or federal offenses. In some cases, notification of intent to file an appeal is required before the appeal itself. For example, California requires criminal appellants to file a notice of appeal, prepare the record on appeal and file their opening brief 40 days from the filing of the decision or judgement.

Appeals and Motions to Modify the Divorce Decree

Family courts can have their own calendars when it comes to appealing divorce decisions, including child custody, child support, and spousal support rulings. States and even county deadlines for appeals may vary.

What to Do If Your Health Insurance Claim Is Denied

Even insurance claim decisions aren't always final. If your insurer denies a claim, you may be able to appeal, but the deadline for filing an appeal will depend on your insurer, and possibly your particular policy. You may also be required to file an appeal with your insurance company before filing a lawsuit against them to cover your healthcare.

As you can see, there's no simple answer to when it's too late to appeal a legal decision. For the best information regarding your case, contact a local attorney.

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