How to Help Your Community During the COVID-19 Outbreak

There’s a lot that you can’t control right now: when businesses reopen, when the frightening graphs we’re shown every day start trending downward, and when you can see your loved ones again. But in the midst of the chaos, there is an opportunity. You can help your community and build up those around you, creating a safer and more welcoming environment when we do return to normal again. Not sure how to help your community right now? These are good ideas to get you started.

Take Care of Those Around You

If you look around your neighborhood, there are likely immunocompromised individuals and seniors who are afraid about getting through each day without coming into contact with COVID-19. For them, going to the grocery store or getting medications could kill them. You can support these individuals without putting yourself at risk. By volunteering to pick up their groceries or prescriptions and leaving them on the front porch, you can maintain social distancing while helping vulnerable people stay out of public life.

Consider Volunteering if You Are Healthy

Lots of organizations that rely on volunteers have been hit hard by COVID-19. People are afraid of coming into contact with others, putting extra strain on outreach programs that already struggled to get enough volunteers. If you are healthy and at low risk of complications from COVID-19, learn more about organizations in your area that are reaching out to those with limited resources. Homeless shelters are in dire need of help during this time, as are animal shelters, meal service charities, food pantries, and clothing drives. Think about any special skills you have that might make you a valuable asset. If you speak a second language, your translating skills could be very useful to those seeking assistance.

Make Face Masks

With the introduction of CDC face mask recommendations, entire sewing communities have come together to make face masks widely available throughout their communities. While people would ideally have access to disposable single-use face masks, that simply isn’t the reality that we live in right now. In the meantime, we have to make do. If you have any sewing skills or a sewing machine at your disposal, the internet is full of tutorials on how to make facemasks. You can start by providing them to local health care workers, grocery store employees, and others who are providing essential services. Branch out by making masks for those who do their family’s errands and grocery shopping, or immunocompromised individuals in your community.

Support the Local Economy

If this stretches out for months, as predicted by many epidemiologists, small businesses are likely to suffer the most. The SBA’s PPP program has already run out of money once and it might happen again. So, with limited government assistance available, it’s up to us as community members to support local businesses. Consider ordering takeout from a local restaurant or getting your Saturday morning sweets from a family-run bakery in your neighborhood. These small actions might not seem like much, but if everyone is committed to helping out the local economy, we can help small businesses ride out this difficult time.

Reach Out to Isolated People

In addition to the physical effects of the coronavirus and the financial effects of the stalled economy, don’t forget about the mental health impact on those who are largely shut out of public life for the foreseeable future. Those going through cancer treatment, who are immunocompromised, and who live in nursing homes are at greatest risk. Reach out to facilities in your area to find out if there are programs to help these individuals stay connected.

Quite a few nursing homes have started up pen pal programs to connect seniors with school-age children. They look forward to receiving drawings and notes from little ones, and little ones get the chance to practice their letter writing skills and build meaningful connections. Whether you find a pen pal, start a vlog to reach out to isolated people in your community, or find another enrichment opportunity, you can trust that your efforts will be appreciated.

Help Essential Workers

With schools closed, many essential workers are struggling to juggle their responsibilities each day. You could offer to buy dinner for a hospital department one night, help essential workers find affordable childcare options during their shifts, or make sure that employees have access to the protective gear they need to stay safe. There are needs in every community; if you start talking to essential workers, you’ll find a need you can fill.

If we use this time wisely, we can come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger, more connected, and better prepared to face the challenges ahead. The team at Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, P.C. is committed to supporting local communities. Reach out to us to learn more or ask about our services.

Pedestrian accident lawyers in Mobile, Alabama

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Could Increase During Coronavirus Shutdowns

In a matter of weeks, life as we know it has completely changed. Once-bustling Main Streets are completely shut down, and the businesses that remain open are staffed by mask-wearing employees serving mask-wearing customers, both parties trying to limit contact as much as possible.

The coronavirus shutdown has changed society in a number of unexpected ways. To start, consider traffic. Work commutes that once took upward of an hour can now be completed in half an hour or less. As you may expect, this has also impacted accident rates—both for accidents only involving vehicles and accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists.

Roads Are Already Deadly for Pedestrians

To be clear, roads have not been an entirely safe place for pedestrians for a long time. As more people turn to walking to get their daily exercise and fresh air, this trend is expected to worsen. Pedestrian fatalities have increased 60% since 2009, compared to a 2% increase in all other traffic deaths between 2009 and 2018.

Decreases in Traffic Accidents

With fewer cars on the road, you might expect roads to be generally safer for those who are forced to head out to do essential work every day. In one way, you’d be right. The number of car crashes is decreasing across the country, but that plays out differently in each local area. In some areas, car crash numbers are actually increasing. Without traffic to keep them slow and steady, some drivers are engaging in more reckless behavior and putting other who are driving, biking, and walking at risk.

On the flip side, car accidents in California have decreased by about 50% since shelter-in-place orders were announced. This is with a 60% decrease in overall traffic, so perhaps California drivers are not taking unnecessary risks. While data is not yet available for Alabama, it is still important to stay cautious while driving.

…But It’s Not All Good News

While the number of car accidents is decreasing across the country, some numbers have risen sharply. Injury and fatality rates, both for drivers and others involved in crashes, have seen a substantial increase.

This may be partially attributed to the behavior leading to car crashes. Not only are drivers engaging in more reckless behavior, the stress of this unpredictable time is likely to leave lots of drivers distracted while behind the wheel. When you combine distractibility, aggressive driving, and the false belief that the roads are safer, you can end up with some unexpected problems.

Additionally, think about the load on health care facilities at this time. Emergency rooms across the United States are focusing on coronavirus patients. And when you add in the other health problems that bring people to emergency rooms, emergency health care personnel in many areas are overwhelmed. With higher care needs, fewer staff, and COVID-19 patients with higher priority, it’s not surprising that those who are involved in car accidents are less likely to get the care they need than they were six weeks ago.

Bike Accident Statistics in the Age of Coronavirus

To understand how coronavirus has changed bike accidents, take a look at New York City. As the current epicenter of the country’s coronavirus crisis and a place where many people have turned to alternate transportation modes, it is a good predictor of what other communities may soon experience. Compared to the week of March 8 to March 15 last year, the same period this year experienced a 43% increase in bicycle accidents in New York City. This comes after a steady decrease in bicycle accidents over a period of several years in New York City, so the increase is alarming. The creation of pop-up bike lanes has been pitched as a possible solution.

What to Do to Protect Yourself

During this time, it is crucial to do everything possible to protect yourself and avoid ending up in the emergency room. Start with these tips:

  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • If you go outside to exercise and get fresh air, choose quieter side streets and sidewalks instead of busy main roads
  • Put reflective strips on your clothes or bike if you are outside after dark
  • Make sure you have a reliable way of getting help if you are involved in an accident
  • Keep your identification on you at all times in case you need emergency assistance
  • Consider sharing your location on your phone with a loved one so they can make sure you are safe

These are uncertain times for all of us, but we can get through it together. Stay safe, watch out for others, and do whatever you can to make life a little easier and more enjoyable. Find out what we’re doing to help or call the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. to discover how we can help you with your legal issues during this time.

coronavirus and personal injury cases

How Coronavirus May Affect Personal Injury Settlements

There is not a single facet of life that has not been touched by coronavirus. From education and non-essential work essentially shutting down to a massive strain on health care providers, everything has changed in one way or another. The same is true within the legal industry. Cases, whether or not they are considered time-sensitive, are running into unexpected delays. If you have a personal injury case in the works, learn more about how coronavirus could affect the timeline.

Sudden Change in Defendant’s Financial Status

A sudden decrease in a defendant’s income could weaken your personal injury case. Generally, lawyers will only pursue what is reasonably attainable. For example, even if you have $1 million injuries and damages, you are unlikely to collect that from someone who is $500,000 in debt and has no verifiable income. Perhaps the defendant in your case was well-off prior to the pandemic but has since seen a significant drop in income and had to sell off assets. This could substantially lower the value of your case.

Medical Care Limitations

Medical care is an essential part of proving your injuries in a personal injury case. However, in many communities, non-emergency medical care has been shut down or delayed. This allows doctors to help on the front lines if necessary and prevents non-infected patients from being exposed to the virus. This could push your case back, since you need to be able to prove medical expenses and the prognosis of your injuries. This is why it’s important to have an experienced attorney; they may be able to help you find a care provider that is still providing services during this time.

Court Delays

One of the most difficult parts of this time for those in the middle of legal battles is widespread court closures. Closing courts limits unnecessary person-to-person contact, prevents the gathering of crowds, and makes it easier for people to follow stay-at-home orders.  However, this also leads to indefinite delays for those who desperately need the financial relief they could gain from a successful case.

Court closures are changing quickly and vary between municipalities. Some are completely closed to new filings, while others have only halted foreclosure and eviction proceedings. Others are still filing cases as normal. It is important to ask your attorney about the situation in your county and make a plan for any potential delays.

More Pressure to Settle

A side effect of court closures is increased pressure to settle. Insurance companies know that you are in a precarious situation because of court closures, so they may be less willing to negotiate. They know that if you don’t accept their terms, you could be waiting months before you can file a claim, during which time they have the upper hand.

Much depends on how your attorney handles this situation. Some will cave to pressure from insurance companies, reasoning that some money is better than no money. Others are committed to fighting against greedy insurance companies and are still focused on aggressively pursuing the compensation you deserve. Again, discuss your options with your personal injury attorney. You shouldn’t have to lose out on the money you deserve because of a situation that is out of your control. Regardless of the current state of the world, insurance companies should be held accountable.

Uptick in Cases

You may want to plan for additional delays. When the wheels of the court system begin rolling again, they won’t just be handling cases that were put on pause because of the pandemic. They will also be taking cases that started during the pandemic. With car accidents that cause injuries or fatalities on the rise in some parts of the country, there could be a serious increase in personal injury cases before this is all finished.

What’s Your Next Step?

Don’t feel hopeless or think you have to give up on your personal injury case. The world may be slowing down right now, but justice still exists. Get ahead of the situation by staying in frequent contact with your attorney. They know your case in detail and understand how coronavirus could impact your potential settlement or ruling.

Be willing to explore different options and stay flexible. For example, you may need to be open to telehealth appointments that allow you to keep receiving care for your injuries and assessing your progress.

Having the right attorney for your needs will make this entire process much easier. If you haven’t chosen an Alabama personal injury attorney yet, select one that is fully prepared to handle cases during the COVID-19 pandemic—not one who will push you to take a low payout to close out the case sooner. Get more information about your options by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. or contacting us online.