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!