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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!

The Hidden Dangers of Sun Glare Accidents

You are driving along one day – maybe you are going to work or dropping off your child at school, and everything seems fine. Suddenly, a blast of bright sunlight penetrates your windshield. You lower your visor to try to block it out, but the glare from the sun is blinding. And as you drive along, you tread carefully hoping and praying that you do not crash into anyone or anything because you could not see very well in front of you.

Sun glare can pop up when we least expect it, and it can make what starts out as an easy and routine drive far more challenging. This becomes a much bigger problem during the late fall and winter months when the days are shortened, and sunrise and sunset tends to coincide with our morning and evening drive times. If you are not careful, bright sunlight can quickly result in disastrous consequences.

How Common are Sun Glare Accidents?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of accidents that are caused each year by sun glare. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts the official number at around 300, but AAA and other organizations believe it is much higher. The challenge is that bright sunlight is not usually listed as a cause of accident on a police report, because drivers are very hesitant to admit to being blinded by the glare of the sun.

A 20-year study from 1995 to 2014 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives us a better idea of just how dangerous sun glare can be. According to the study, bright sunlight is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all auto accidents that occur during daylight hours. The results of this study suggest that sun glare is a far greater hazard for drivers than most people realize.

Am I At Fault for a Sun Glare Accident?

There is no doubt that bright sunlight can severely disrupt your driving, and it can make it far more difficult to notice cars that hit their brakes and slow down in front of you, pedestrians and bicyclists that cross the street in front of you, and vehicles and objects that enter your blind spot. But since this is all caused by the sun, some people wonder if they would be considered at fault if the disrupting sun glare caused an accident. After all, isn’t bright sunlight “act of God”?

Unfortunately for the driver, “act of God” is not a valid defense for causing a sun glare accident. When we talk about “acts of God”, we are talking about extraordinary natural events that could not have been foreseen and could not have been avoided. Examples may include earthquakes, mudslides, or a deer jumping in front of your car.

Although the sun shining is a natural event, it is also an everyday occurrence that is very predictable. The sun rises and sets at certain times each day, and anyone can find out when that will happen by simply watching a weather report. For this reason, it is our responsibility to exercise reasonable care to prepare for the possibility of bright sunlight, just like we would with any other predictable event.

How to Prevent Accidents Caused by Bright Sunlight

There are several things you can do to make sure you are prepared in the event that you suddenly encounter sun glare:

  • Clean your windshield and make sure it is free of marks and streaks before driving;
  • Be sure you have functional wiper blades and plenty of washer fluid, so you can keep your windshield clean as you drive;
  • Where polarized sunglasses whenever you drive to help reduce the glare;
  • Consider purchasing sun visor extenders that will help you block out more of the sun as you drive;
  • When bright sunlight hits your windshield, drive slowly and allow plenty of space to deal with any problems that may lie ahead;
  • If possible, modify your driving route and drive time to do less East/West driving and minimize your exposure to sun glare;
  • As always, avoid unnecessary distractions such as making phone calls and texting on your cell phone while driving.

Injured in a Sun Glare Accident in Alabama? Contact Hedge Copeland for Assistance

In spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the negligent actions of others. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a sun glare accident that was caused by another driver, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident occurred in Alabama, call Hedge Copeland today at 251 – 432 – 8844 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly evaluate your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.