How COVID-19 Affects Personal Injury Cases
Common, everyday events continue to occur unabated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including slip and fall accidents, car accidents and dog bites. Victims of these accidents can still file personal injury lawsuits as a response to these events, regardless if we’re in the middle of a pandemic. There are some issues that the pandemic creates, however, relating to these lawsuits, and these issues make it even more important than usual for injury victims to contact an attorney so they can discuss their legal options and rights and how to maximize their financial recovery.
Personal injury cases may currently take longer to complete than before the pandemic since much of the court system has been shut down by the pandemic. Yes, most personal injury cases settle before going to court. However, many personal injury cases require at least one court hearing before a settlement is agreed to. Needing a court to be involved could delay some peoples’ personal injury cases.
Personal Injury Claim Settlement
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of Americans out of work and reduced a lot of Americans’ work hours. This has led to a lot of Americans experiencing financial stress which can motivate them to try to settle personal injury claims as quickly as possible. Insurers know that a lot of Americans are desperate for quick money right now and they will likely attempt to exploit this by low-balling personal injury victims with inadequate settlement offers. It is wise for personal injury victims to very closely examine any first offer from an insurer, as it is likely to be too small for an injury victim’s needs. It is a good idea to contact an attorney to review any settlement offer. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you when you are being low-balled.
Less people are driving and less people are going out in public and getting hurt because of the pandemic. Insurance companies expect their profits to decline during the pandemic because of this. Insurers will be extra motivated to hand out the smallest settlements possible because of this. This could lead to a higher percentage of personal injury cases either going to trial or at least requiring extra court involvement, which, again, could cause delays since the court system is largely shut down right now.
It may be more difficult than usual to recover money from businesses that are suffering economically during the pandemic. Uninsured businesses may not be able to pay settlements and when defendants go into bankruptcy, this can delay settlements and/or reduce settlement amounts.
Pandemic Creating New Case Types
The COVID-19 pandemic is creating new types of personal injury cases, including:
• COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths: U.S. nursing homes are mandated by law to create and maintain an infection control program “designed to provide a safe, sanitary and comfortable environment and to help prevent the development and transmission of disease and infection.” If someone contracts COVID-19 in a nursing home and dies because the home failed to create or maintain an adequate infection control program, their family may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
• COVID-19 Workplace Deaths: Families of workers who contract COVID-19 in the workplace and die from it may be able to recover damages in wrongful death lawsuits if the workplace created an unsafe workplace environment for the worker, such as an environment lacking social distancing and/or personal protective equipment.
• COVID-19 Cruise Ship Deaths: Families of people who contract COVID-19 on a cruise ship and die from it may be able to recover damages in wrongful death lawsuits because several cruise ships have departed with passengers aboard who were not warned that people contracted COVID-19 on the ship’s previous voyage.
• COVID-19 Business Interruption Insurance Denial Claims: Many businesses who have been shut down by COVID-19 have been seeing their business interruption insurance claims denied by insurance companies. An experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover financial compensation depending on the exact wording of your insurance policy.
Receiving Medical Care For Personal Injury Cases During COVID-19
Personal injury victims must receive medical care to obtain the most compensation possible for their injuries because medical documentation of injuries and costs is crucial in personal injury cases. It is understandable that people are reluctant to go out in public and receive medical attention during the pandemic. However, it is not a good time for this reluctance when you are trying to obtain a personal injury settlement. Personal injury victims should receive medical attention as quickly as possible while maintaining social distancing.
Injury victims may find that there are delays in their medical care since many healthcare providers are dealing with a lot of COVID-19 patients. These victims may find it wise to delay filing or settling their cases. Only completion of their treatment will allow them to realize the full extent of the damages they can recover for.
Our law firm has a team in place to offer personal injury victims telemedicine options if necessary.
Insurance Coverage Lapses During COVID-19
Some drivers may not be able to continue to afford car insurance because of the recession that the pandemic has caused. This could increase the chances that a personal injury victim is struck by an uninsured driver, which can greatly complicate efforts to obtain financial recovery. Uninsured drivers may lack assets to recover from, leaving victims with only their personal uninsured/underinsured insurance policy to collect from. Insurance companies will not be eager to pay out large sums in these cases, so obtaining the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer can be critical for injury victims in these cases.