How is COVID-19 Affecting Personal Injury Cases?
Coronavirus has directly impacted all Americans in one way or another. Some have become gravely ill; many have lost loved ones and others are simply missing social gatherings and the regular events they attend in the spring. People with an active personal injury claim may be wondering how COVID-19 is affecting personal injury cases? Those who have been recently injured or who are within the statute of limitations for their injury and would like to bring a personal injury claim may be wondering if they can bring a claim at this time.
Can I file a personal injury claim during COVID-19 stay at home orders?
Yes, an injured victim is still entitled to file a personal injury claim during stay at home orders. Contact local personal injury attorneys who you may be interested in working with and ask them how they are currently operating so you know how the process will work during this time.
How is COVID-19 affecting current personal injury cases?
The courts have been impacted:
Personal injury claims often take two to three years to reach a settlement. For those cases that end up in court, the process is the longest. In Bellingham, Washington the courts are operating on a limited “as needed” basis, and many hearings are being scheduled and heard by telephone, or via video conferencing. This means that it may take a little longer to settle your claim in court during this time and that it may be handled through audio-video technology.
Insurance companies may try to low-ball injured victims:
Many people are stressed financially right now because they are unable to work with non-essential businesses shut down. Some insurance agents may try to take advantage of this vulnerability by offering a low-ball settlement that won’t even cover medical expenses, let alone pain and suffering. Those who are injured and stressed financially may feel desperate and be more inclined to accept a low-ball offer from the at-fault insurance agency. Injured victims should resist accepting any offer before speaking to a personal injury attorney to determine the value of their claim.
Because insurance companies tend to deal with declining profits during turbulent economic times, they may be even more resistant to offering a fair settlement than normal. This means that it’s possible that a higher percentage of personal injury claims brought during this time could end up proceeding further through litigation or going to trial.
Collecting injury settlements from defendants may be more difficult:
If you were awarded an injury settlement from a small business owner who has now declared bankruptcy because they couldn’t operate their business and they lacked insurance, it could be a lot more difficult to collect.
Medical treatment appointments:
Personal injury claims depend a lot on medical documentation that shows the extent of the victim’s injuries and the costs of the medical treatment. Some may be nervous to go to a doctor’s office at this time and care practitioners may be operating differently right now, but to the extent possible, injured patients should keep receiving all treatment necessary to heal. If appointments or treatments are delayed because of non-essential surgery bans, the injured party should be prepared to wait until after they are able to complete treatment and recovery to reach a settlement.
Increase in uninsured or underinsured motorist claims:
While car accidents are down, those that do happen may be more likely to involve an uninsured or underinsured motorist. This is because people who are financially strapped tend to cut things like insurance. If you find yourself involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, seek the help of a car accident attorney.
Seek the help of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. At Tario & Associates, P.S., we are all still working very hard remotely on all of our client’s cases to make sure that every effort is taken to ensure no case is jeopardized or negatively affected in any way. The courts are operating on a limited “as needed” basis, and many hearings are being scheduled and heard by telephone, or via video conferencing. We are answering our phones as normal, and our staff and attorneys are available to discuss any matter with our clients as normal.
Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!