If you recently lost a case in civil court and had a judgment issued against you, you have the option of appealing that judgment. To appeal, the courts may notify you that you must put up an appeal or supersedeas bond.
In many cases, you can appeal without an appeal bond; however, the plaintiff would then be free to execute the judgment against you. Then, if you were to win the appeal, you would have the burden of recovering the money you paid the plaintiff, as well as any judgment amount against them upon conclusion of the appeal.
This is where appeal bonds come in.
What is an appeal bond?
Many may wonder what an appeal bond is, especially if this is the first judgment issued against you. Appeal bonds are a type of surety that a defendant appealing a lower court decision presents to the courts to delay payment of a judgment until after the appeal has been heard by a higher court.
Since the chances of winning the appeal are often low, the supersedeas bond also ensures that the defendant is not merely delaying payment of a judgment or filing a frivolous appeal. The bond cost and risk of losing assets is significant enough to keep defendants who are not confident in their position from continuing to pursue a different outcome in the courts.
A plaintiff must wait ten days before executing a judgment against a plaintiff. During this time, if the defendant obtains a supersedeas bond, the plaintiff cannot execute judgment, even after the ten days. The judgment can then only be executed upon completion of the appeals process if a defendant loses in the appellate court.
How much do appeal bonds cost?
These types of sureties are normally much larger than the judgment amount to cover future possible expenses, such as court costs, interest, and attorney’s fees. Though rates vary by state, all require only a portion of the full surety amount to secure them. Premiums typically range from 1 percent – 2 percent of the entire bond amount.
Many states have implemented a cap on the amount the defendant is required to pay. For instance, in Florida, the appellant can be required to pay no more than $50 million or post no more than that amount in an appeal bond upon appealing the lower court’s decision.
In addition to the premium, defendants are also required to present collateral in the full bond amount. This collateral could be investments, real estate or other assets that ensure the complainant can be made whole should the defendant go bankrupt upon losing the appeal.
How do appeal bonds work?
After losing a case in civil court, a defendant has the right to appeal the case to a higher court. In most cases, the litigant must either pay a cash amount to the court or present a supersedeas bond. The litigant would then call a surety company or surety agent to begin the process. The involved surety will ask for certain paperwork, such as a bond form acceptable by the court, proof of collateral, and the premium payment for the bond.
Because collateral is posted, if a defendant loses the appeal, the plaintiff can seize their collateral if the litigant cannot or will not pay. Appeals can take years, and defendants are often bankrupt by the end of the appeals process. The supersedeas bond, with its associated collateral, ensures the plaintiff can still be made whole. The decision rendered by the lower court and appellate courts can be executed, and the plaintiff can be assured receipt of what is due, even if the defendant is insolvent.
How do I get an appeal bond?
To get an appeal bond, you need to contact a surety agent, such as NFP. The surety company will need a copy of the judgment against you, as well as either a blank appeal bonds form or a copy of a completed supersedeas bonds form the courts have accepted in the past. If neither are available, NFP can produce the bond form for you.
You will also need cash or a credit card to pay your bond premium. The premium is a portion of the full surety bond amount that must be paid to obtain the bond. Fill out our form online or contact us to get the process started. In most cases, we can have your bond application completed within two days.
What if I win my appeal?
If you win your appeal, your bond premium is non-refundable. Without the bond, though, you would be responsible for recovering any monies you paid out in a judgment that has now been reversed.
What if I lose my appeal?
If you lose your appeal, either you or the surety will pay the courts the full bond amount, including the amount of any judgment. If you are unable to pay, the collateral you presented upon purchasing the bond will be seized and signed over to the complainant. In cases where the surety pays the full bond amount and you must repay the surety, failure to pay the surety will result in a surety taking the assets and could result in further judgment.
The decision to appeal a case should not be taken lightly. Appellate cases can take years to be fully heard and can be hard to win. Supersedeas bonds ensure that the litigant is serious about the appeals process and that the complainant can be made whole should the appellate court rule in the complainant’s favor.
Although bond premiums are non-refundable, they are typically less expensive than pursuing the return of a paid judgment that has been reversed by a higher court.
For more information on appeal bonds, contact our team at 800.863.3210.