The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unpredictable and unprecedented scenario for new and ongoing legal cases. Thankfully, personal injury victims can still negotiate settlements with at-fault parties and insurers and pursue their claims for damages through their personal injury lawyer.
Considering the adverse economic conditions from the COVID-19 disruptions, it has become more important for injured victims and their families to get their rightful compensation.
Personal Injury Claim: The Basics
Personal injury claims can arise when a person is harmed due to an accident or injury caused by another individual. The one responsible for the accident is bound by law to pay for the ongoing medical and medication expenses, medical bills, and suffering, and pain of the injured party.
Through the years, countless Americans have filed for personal injury claims. Federal court data show that of the 58, 664 new civil cases filed last June, 35, 919 (approximately 63.9%) were for Torts-Personal Injury-Product Liability.
These figures are higher than the year prior, where claims for the same classification only ranked 8th. However, these numbers indicate that despite the quarantine implementations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, accidents still abound.
How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
If you are filing a personal injury claim, it is essential to note that some aspects of the process have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With that said, keep the following essentials in mind:
Don't delay your personal injury claim.
It's safe to assume personal injury claims can take longer with the pandemic. However, it should not be an excuse to also delay the filing. Consider it best to talk to your lawyer so you can map out how you want to proceed.
It is reassuring to know that even if the accident occurred when the stay-at-home order was in effect, claimants can still file and work things out with their lawyers and insurers. Most offices are still operating, although they often only have a skeletal workforce.
Expect that there are alternative methods for court proceedings and client meetings that will be in effect.
Getting hospital treatment may be difficult.
Since many hospitals are focusing on treating COVID-19 patients, it might be difficult to get treatment for your injuries. However, since medical treatment is one of the basic requirements of personal injury claims, you need to discuss this with your lawyer to determine your best option.
In most cases, doctors will now recommend medical consultations via video conferencing. If your doctor or hospital will not allow a similar option, it would be best to document everything—from the time of the accident until the time you tried to seek medical treatment. Your documentation can help prove you went through all the processes required.
The economic process can impact the claims process.
There is no denying the COVID-19 has dramatically affected the economy. While the unemployment rate has dropped to 11.1% in June, around 10 million people are still unemployed. Insurance companies are well aware of this, with some implementing stricter policies for personal injury claims.
To warrant their bottom line is safe, insurers might lower insurance claims. More claimants might prefer going to trial in similar scenarios rather than settling the matter outside the court. If the defendant lost his income due to the pandemic, you might need to wait longer to collect the settlement award.
Some insurance companies might take advantage of the situation.
As a general rule of thumb, do not finalize any deals with insurance companies without discussing it with your personal injury lawyer. Some insurers are taking advantage of the current situation by offering to settle the case immediately. In most cases, these settlements have meager rates, which might not be enough to cover the overall losses and expenses.
While COVID-19 has greatly affected some aspects of personal injury claim filings, it is encouraging to know several alternatives are available. Talk to your lawyer so you will know how to proceed.
If you were injured in an accident, call us today at (561) 671-5995 to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer and get started on your claim. You can also download my book 'What the Heck Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?' for free.
About the Guest Author
Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing minigolf with her friends and family in her spare time.