How Might COVID-19 Change the Way Personal Injury Cases Are Litigated?
Like most other activities where in-person interaction is required, personal injury lawsuits have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This can put serious stress on parties who are looking to achieve a legal resolution to disputes stemming from auto accidents, falls and other times types of harmful incidents allegedly caused by a defendant’s negligence.
Whether you’re a plaintiff or defendant in one of these cases, COVID-19 could change how your litigation proceeds in many different ways, such as:
- Financial pressures — Typically, it’s assumed that injured plaintiffs and their families feel pressure to close a settlement so that they can secure prompt compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other costs. However, the coronavirus pandemic threatens both individuals and businesses, so both parties might feel compelled to work things out rather than risk a total loss at trial.
- Delayed medical treatments and evaluations — COVID-19 has stretched healthcare resources to the limit. In hotspot areas, elective procedures have been halted and doctors might not be seeing people for non-urgent treatment. Evaluations conducted for expert reports and evidence in personal injury cases will likely be difficult to obtain until the severe threat passes. Until the country’s medical infrastructure is nearly back to normal, most personal injury litigation might have to wait.
- Reduced court access — Courthouses across the country have either closed or reduced hours because of COVID-19. In some jurisdictions, specific types of cases and situations have been given priority during this pandemic. This usually means that criminal cases with defendants in custody are being given preference over personal injury cases and other civil matters. Many courts are looking at ways to hold virtual motion hearings, and depositions might be conducted in this manner as well. If you have a pending case, it is important to speak to your lawyer about any delays or contingency plans. When the justice system is back up and running you can discuss a revised timeline for your matter.
COVID-19 has already changed how the legal industry as a whole is operating. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney who can help you answer these questions about your particular situation.