How will COVID-19 affect Accident Injury Cases?

The coronavirus pandemic has taken our country by storm and disrupted every area of our society. Tens of thousands of our fellow citizens have tragically died after being infected with the virus, and millions more have shut down their businesses or lost their jobs as part of the response to it. Aside from frontline “essential” workers, most Americans are now working remotely as we ride out this storm.

While not everyone has contracted the coronavirus, no one has been immune from the effects of it. And this includes the justice system. Like most other states, Alabama has issued a “shelter in place” order, directing citizens to stay in their homes except for essential activities. The state has also suspended most court proceedings, and the use of electronic filing, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing has been highly encouraged.

COVID-19 has temporarily changed the way we do things here at Hedge Copeland as well. The first thing you should know is that we are still fully operational and able to continue providing the strong legal guidance and support our clients have always received. We are taking all the precautions and following all of the social distancing guidelines, and we are doing most of our work remotely these days. But rest assured, we have the technology and resources to perform all the work that can currently be done to move your cases forward.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Personal Injury Cases

The wheels of justice are turning more slowly, which means if you have a personal injury lawsuit that is pending, you will be waiting longer for a resolution. While the case is ongoing, however, a lot of work outside of the courts can still be done.

For example, documents can be prepared electronically, and depositions can be conducted remotely using Zoom, Skype, or another teleconferencing platform. You can also conduct arbitrations and mediations remotely. As long as the firm that is representing you has the infrastructure to smoothly transition into essentially a virtual practice, your case can proceed with minimal disruption.

In addition to limited court access, there are some other challenges that personal injury plaintiffs should be aware of:

Obtaining Appropriate Medical Care

When someone is injured in an accident, they should seek immediate medical attention. This is normally provided by a first responder who comes to the scene. During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting an ambulance to the scene of an accident has not been too much of a problem in Alabama at least. Thankfully, our state has not been hit as hard as some others, and we still have enough available medical personnel.

The greater challenges lie in obtaining follow-up treatment for your injuries. Many doctors have been forced to postpone elective procedures in order to divert resources to the anticipated rise in coronavirus patients. This has resulted in some personal injury victims having to reschedule appointments and put necessary procedures on hold.

Another issue is the understandable concern personal injury victims have about going to a hospital or clinic where there might be COVID-19 positive patients. Keep in mind, however, that these facilities are going to great lengths to keep their patients safe. For example, coronavirus patients are usually in a separate area, and every patient is kept at least a 6-foot distance from others. Surfaces are continually sanitized, and everyone in the facility is wearing masks.

It is very important for those who have been injured in an accident to be diligent and do everything possible to obtain the care they need. If an appointment and/or procedure has to be rescheduled, there is not a lot you can do about that. But to the best of your ability, follow your doctor’s orders and follow through on your care.

This is not only critical for your recovery and long-term health, but also for the success of your legal claim. In order to recover maximum compensation, you will need to document the full extent of your injuries, and this can only be done if you continue with your care. You also have a legal duty to mitigate your losses by obtaining the medical treatments you need in a timely manner.

Pressure to Settle the Case for Less

As mentioned previously, the coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of people to lose their jobs, and finances are very tight for many households. With the prospect of having to wait longer for a personal injury lawsuit to move through the justice system, some claimants will be more motivated to settle. Insurance companies are aware of this as well, and many will try to take advantage of the situation by making a very low settlement offer. Now, more than ever, it is absolutely essential to have strong legal counsel by your side fighting hard for the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Hedge Copeland is Here for You 

If you or a loved one suffered injury in an accident in Alabama, Hedge Copeland is here for you even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 251 – 432 – 8844. We look forward to serving you!

Finding the Silver Linings in the Coronavirus Crisis

The COVID-19 outbreak is one of the most devastating events our country and the world has ever faced. Millions have already been infected by the disease, and the death toll now numbers in the hundreds of thousands worldwide. In response to the pandemic, most countries have shut down non-essential parts of their economy and instituted “shelter in place” orders to keep people distanced from each other as much as possible until the pandemic subsides.

Whether you become infected by the coronavirus or not, there is no one who will be able to escape the impact of it. If you do not already, chances are you will eventually know someone who has contracted the virus or even died from it. Or you may be one of the millions who has either lost their jobs or had to close their business because of it.

Your job might have moved from your office to your home, which could definitely be a major adjustment. Or you might be an “essential” worker who is being asked to work long hours out in the public at the risk of contracting the virus in order to care for our sick and keep our society functioning.

There is no doubt that this is a difficult time for our nation, and we will have unprecedented challenges ahead as we work our way through this situation and deal with the many uncertain aftereffects of it. But we have faced dark times before, and we have always risen to the occasion and emerged stronger because of the experience. It is also important to remember even as we go through this that every dark cloud has silver linings which can be seen now and will become even clearer when the cloud is finally lifted.

When we look around, it is gratifying to see the way Alabamans and all Americans are coming together to help each other during this time of great peril. Here are just a few examples:

Supporting Local Food Banks

With millions of Americans suddenly out of a job, the need at local food shelves has never been greater. Not only are the lines of hungry recipients growing, they have also lost volunteers who need to stay home because they are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. Many of the neighbors in local communities are pitching in to keep up with the growing need at food banks by donating if they can afford it or volunteering if they have the extra time.

Supporting the Elderly in Local Communities

Seniors are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are shut-ins and/or cannot leave their homes out of concern for catching the virus, making it increasingly difficult to get the food and other essential items they need. There is also a lot of loneliness among this demographic due to the isolation of not being able to see loved ones and other visitors. Many good Samaritans in local neighborhoods are making sure the elderly residents have all the essential goods they need. Others are calling just a check up on them and provide some much-needed companionship from a distance.

Supporting Local Businesses

Restaurants, coffee shops, and other “nonessential” establishments where groups tend to gather have suffered greatly because of the coronavirus crisis, although some maintain limited services such as take-out or delivery. Local consumers recognize that these businesses need support, and they are stepping up to patronize them as best they can.

Supporting Frontline Workers

Those who go to work each day on the front lines are literally putting their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. Others in the community are finding ways to say “thank you” to frontline workers. Some examples include having meals delivered to them, making masks for them to wear, and finding creative ways to send messages of encouragement and support. We at Hedge Copeland have been privileged to participate in this effort (if even in a small way) by having food delivered to various groups of frontline workers. These are the true heroes in our fight against this invisible enemy, and we need to support them as much as possible.

Finding Blessings in the COVID-19 Crisis

You have no doubt had your normal routine disrupted in some way by the coronavirus pandemic, and you have had to make some adjustments. But many Americans are finding out that this disruption does not have to be all bad. We have talked about the ways that our communities are coming together because during this crisis, and people have experienced many other blessings as well:

  • A Chance to Slow Down: Many of us participate in what has become un-affectionately known as the “rat race” – a seemingly never-ending treadmill of appointments, engagements, and obligations. COVID-19 has forced us to cancel most of these, which has allowed us to slow down, relax a little bit, and enjoy some of the smaller blessings of life that we had previously overlooked.
  • More Time for Faith and Reflection: The time we save on commuting and traveling around to various places can be spent reflecting on our lives, practicing our faith more deeply, and reassessing our priorities. If we use this time wisely, we can cultivate many constructive habits that we can carry into our post-COVID-19 lives.
  • More Time with Close Family: So often many of us lament that we do not have enough time in our busy schedules to spend with our family. Well, like it or not, most of us have that time now. If you are “stuck” at home with your family, take this time to bond together and create special memories that will last a lifetime.
  • More Time to Connect with Others: Maybe you cannot visit your extended family and friends in person, but chances are, they are doing the same thing you are. So call them up, FaceTime them, or send them an electronic message. You may never have this much extra time to catch up with people you have not connected with for a while.
  • The Promise of Positive Societal Changes: Pandemics have historically changed the world for the better, and the same will be true of COVID-19. When all of this is over, our increasingly health-conscious society will develop better and more efficient ways to administer healthcare, educate our kids, do our work, and generally make our society function better. For example, we are already seeing a major trend toward telehealth, telecommuting, distance learning, and even online worship and entertainment, which will likely continue when all of this is over.

These are anxious and uncertain times to be sure, but they are also the kind of times that bring out the best in humanity. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of those rare shared experiences in which we can truly say “we are all in this together”; and we know that our faith, resilience, and determination will get us through it and make us a stronger and more unified nation when we come out on the other side.