The novel COVID-19 or “Coronavirus” pandemic has impacted the entire nation. Businesses have shuttered, schools have moved online, and plans have been changed all over the nation. Even in areas where everyday life is starting to slowly grind back into motion, the future remains unclear.
This is particularly true if you have an ongoing personal injury claim or would like to file one. Has Coronavirus affected the legal system? Is your personal injury claim even still valid?
The short answer is “Yes” to both of those questions. Yes, the pandemic has affected the legal system and standard operation procedures. But yes, your personal injury claim is still valid, and you are also able to file a new one.
Filing a Claim When You Are Still Under ‘Stay At Home’ Orders
While many towns and regions are starting to relax their ‘Stay At Home’ orders, many others are still under strict effect. Even in those that are reopening, social distancing is still practiced in most business and legal arenas and will be for quite some time. The first step for filing a personal injury claim will be to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most of your interaction with them will now be done through online teleconferencing, email, phone, etc.
It’s important to realize that obtaining the documents and other evidence you need for your claim may take a bit longer than usual at this time. When your claim is filed, you will most likely be advised to settle out of court. Not only are most courthouses still closed to the public, but they are also experiencing a backlog of cases. Many hearings are taking place via videoconferencing, which slows proceedings further.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand that personal injury cases in general usually take two to three years to reach a settlement, and even longer when matters are taken into court. Because of this, it’s very likely that any new personal injury claims being filed will most likely not see the inside of a courtroom at all during 2020, and possibly not for the immediate years to come.
Other COVID-19 Considerations
It’s not just the courts moving slower. When filing a personal injury claim (or waiting on one that has already been filed), there are many new things to consider because of the ongoing pandemic:
- The statute of limitations may be affected in your cases, though some states are allowing citizens to obtain waivers when applicable.
- More people are uninsured now because of income loss, making getting injury compensation more challenging.
- More businesses are declaring bankruptcy, further making it difficult to collect compensation.
- Medical evaluations / documents are tougher to get now because of office closures and scheduling restrictions.
- Both insurance companies and businesses may try to take advantage of the current economic situation you if you are injured on their watch. Always speak to your attorney before accepting any offer.
The Bottom Line
Your personal injury case is currently more challenging to navigate, but it is far from impossible. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before trying to file on your own or worse, assuming that you cannot do so at this time.