The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted millions of Americans, creating social and financial hardship across the country. As an accident victim with a personal injury case, these hardships may be heightened due to the regulations and closings surrounding the pandemic.
At the Flood Law Firm, we offer our deepest sympathy to our community.
In these difficult and unprecedented times, we are here to answer how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts your personal injury case. This article will explain how your case is still being managed and what you can do during this time as your case moves forward.
What Is Operational?
With constant updates and legislation being released, it can be hard to stay up-to-date on what is open and operational. Governor Ned Lamont and the Judicial Branch have enacted numerous orders that limit or suspend court operations.
Operations that have been suspended include, but are not limited to:
- All state civil scheduling agreements and case management orders (1)
- State civil and criminal jury trials (1)
- Federal civil and criminal jury trials (2)
- All probate court operations and associated requirements (3)
While the majority of these have been suspended indefinitely, federal civil and criminal jury trials have been suspended until May 15, 2020.
Simply because these operations have been suspended, though, doesn’t mean that personal injury cases have come to a halt.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Lamont signed the Executive Order 7H (4), stating:
“Non-essential businesses or not-for-profit entities shall reduce their in-person workforces at any workplace locations by 100% not later than March 23, 2020 at 8:00 pm. Any essential business or entity providing essential goods, services or functions shall not be subject to these in-person restrictions.”
Among the essential businesses listed in the executive order were legal and accounting services, which means that law firms can remain operational. However, the State of Connecticut has also published safe workplace rules for essential employers (5). These include urging essential employees who are able to work from home to do so, as well as to control the access of external visitors.
Due to these precautions, many law firms have employed various work-from-home practices and measures of telecommunication. While phone and email communication have allowed firms to continue contact with clients, video conferencing has been an essential tool to ensure cases and proceedings continue to move forward.
How Is My Case Managed Under COVID-19 Restrictions?
Operations are simply more virtual
While not every law firm is virtual, video conferencing has allowed depositions to still be taken, given the consent of both parties. A deposition is where a witness answers questions under oath and is transcribed by a court reporter so that it can be used as written testimony (6). Depositions from either party involved in the case, family members, medical experts, and others called to testify are critical in building a personal injury case.
Moreover, mediations and arbitrations can also occur through telecommunication. According to FindLaw of Thomson Reuters, a mediation is a “non-binding process generally conducted with a single mediator who does not judge the case but facilitates discussion and eventual resolution of the dispute,” whereas an arbitration is “typically a binding process that replaces the full trial process with multiple (often three) chosen people to serve as judges in your case.” (7)
Both mediation and arbitration are ways a case can be resolved, meaning that your personal injury case can still be settled despite the limitations of COVID-19 restrictions. What’s more, agreements can be made through phone conversations with insurance agencies and defense attorneys to settle a case before it even reaches trial.
But here’s the thing: these operations happen regardless. They are simply operating using virtual tools due to the current circumstances.
Cases can still be settled
In fact, most personal injury cases settle outside of court. At the Flood Law Firm, Attorney Brian Flood explains:
“Our philosophy is probably more aggressive than many others. We file lawsuits, we appear in court, we try cases. We find that trying cases actually helps us settle cases as well.” (8)
This philosophy comes from the power of jury trials. In his experience, Attorney Flood has found that the threat of a jury trial is often the only thing that forces insurance companies to pay fair compensation to victims. The pause in court processions due to COVID-19 has thus allowed some law firms to stay aggressive in moving their cases forward, knowing that jury trials will begin again once the restrictions are lifted.
Gathering evidence, communication with clients and other attorneys, virtual depositions, and settlements outside of court are all ways that your personal injury case is still being managed, despite these difficult times.
What Can You Do?
Communicate with your attorney
Communication has never been more important than it is right now. If there is any change, such as to your contact information or medical condition, please contact your legal team. Unfortunately, many medical practices have been impacted with the COVID-19 restrictions that would normally offer treatment or follow-up reports to victims of personal injury. However, some offices are adapting to the restrictions by offering telemedicine and at-home treatment regimens if appropriate.
Communicate what is going on, even if it is to update your legal team on how you are feeling. This progress, or pause in progress, is important to your case. Moreover, when the restrictions are lifted and medical services are fully operational, appropriate follow-up appointments and treatments can be rescheduled to move your case forward.
Due to the recent Executive Order 7X signed by Governor Lamont, residents are directed to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” until May 20, 2020 for the state of Connecticut (9). This extension, along with current social distancing practices, potentially allow for increased usage of social media platforms. Be careful what you post on social media, just like you would under otherwise normal circumstances. What you post on social media platforms can potentially be used against you to weaken the argument of your injuries or claims.
Personal injury doesn’t stop during a pandemic
No one plans to fall victim to an injury, especially one due to someone else’s negligence. Essential workers are still active in the workplace, and people can still go to the grocery store. Society is still operating, however limited, under the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal injury claims can still occur. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer.
At the Flood Law Firm, we are here for our community. We are here for you. We wish you safe, healthy endeavors as we continue to stay strong during this unprecedented time. If you need to contact our office, you may reach us at (860) 346-2695. We offer free virtual consultations as well as phone and video conferencing for our clients. Be safe. Be strong.