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.
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.