How Might COVID-19 Impact Personal Injury Claims?
With the outbreak of COVID-19 causing substantial disruptions to daily life, things that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago have become realities in many parts of the country. This situation is leaving people who have been recently hurt in an accident wondering what will happen to their personal injury claims. While these are uncertain times, the good news is that many personal injury claims will continue on their path to resolution in spite of the crisis, and those that are disrupted will likely get back on track in the coming months.
Insurance Companies Are Not Closed
The first thing to keep in mind is that most personal injury claims are resolved out of court through a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If your claim is in this category, you can hope for minimal disruption to the process, as insurance companies continue to operate normally. In fact, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has issued a letter directing all insurance companies to “take steps during the crisis necessary to maintain their ability to process and pay insurance claims and provide other required consumer services for insureds in a reasonable and timely manner.
The Legal System Will Continue to Function
While many courts around the country have scaled back on personnel, suspended non-critical proceedings, or pushed court dates back, there is no reason to believe that the legal system will come to a halt for an extended period of time. Courts around the country are going virtual, and if social distancing measures continue to be necessary, the legal system will find a way to function. To this point, many courts around the country have already started instituting procedures to operate virtually.
Expect More Virtual Meetings
You can expect that many meetings associated with personal injury claims will be conducted virtually for the foreseeable future. Rather than having to go into your lawyer’s office to discuss your case, your conversation may take place over Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or another video conferencing application. Expect the same for other personal injury-related matters like depositions and settlement negotiations. In addition, expect to sign documents virtually through programs like DocuSign rather than going into your attorney’s office.
Courts May Delay Hearings and Trials
While things almost certainly continue to function, it’s certainly true that there may be delays in your case, especially when it comes to court dates. While modern technology allows us to conduct most tasks related to a personal injury claim remotely, procedures have to be put into place, and the law is notoriously resistant to change the way things have been done in the past. For this reason, if you have a personal injury trial coming up, it’s possible that you may need to wait a few extra weeks or months for your case to resolve.
Talk to Your Doctor about Keeping Up with Your Medical Treatment
As a personal injury victim, it’s absolutely critical that you continue to keep up with your medical treatment as much as possible. Insurance companies often use “gaps in treatment” or the fact that a victim skipped appointments as evidence that their injuries are not as serious as they are claiming. That said, many medical offices and hospitals have canceled or postponed non-essential appointments, which means you may not be able to attend follow-up appointments, physical therapy, or other treatments you had scheduled. To protect your legal rights, try to continue therapy and home exercises to the extent possible and then get back into therapy, doctor appointments, and other forms of treatment once the stay at home order is lifted.
Contact an Attorney for More Information
If you have concerns about a pending or imminent personal injury claim in light of the COVID-19 crisis, reach out to an attorney as soon as you can. We are available to discuss your situation by phone or email, so do not hesitate to call today.