How Has COVID-19 Impacted Personal Injury Suits?

Personal injury lawsuits are a major part of the average court’s docket, but with COVID-19 still threatening communities around the country, it’s been hard to keep up with the litigation schedule – and the problem isn’t just with the courts. Rather, in addition to court system delays, victims have to contend with law firms closing their doors, aggression on the part of insurance agencies, and barriers to post-injury medical care. It’s a challenging situation and it’s forcing lawyers to rethink how they handle their cases, with interesting results.

Going Virtual

One of the biggest changes to litigation in the age of COVID-19 is the shift from in-person interactions. That includes virtual consultations with lawyers, telehealth appointments, and even entirely virtual courtroom experiences. This can be off-putting to some victims, who may think that it’s better to delay their claim until it can be handled in person, but any lawyer familiar with the system will emphasize that you can’t afford to delay. Delays can compromise the case and make it harder to tie your injuries to the accident that caused them.

You Need A Network

Because normal services – not just legal, but medical and administrative – have been so significantly disrupted by COVID-19, one of the most valuable things accident victims can do is work within a network of service providers. That’s why the Baum Law Firm provides clients with medical referrals to ensure they have access to the care they need in a timely manner, and that they receive it from doctors with experience handling personal injury cases. At a time when systems are lagging behind so significantly, working within a network of service providers can ease communication and keep your case on track.

Predatory Proceedings

Personal injury claims can take quite a while to resolve under normal conditions, and that’s stressful for victims. Factor in the extended timelines created by COVID-related delays and victims can become panicked. This may be one of the hardest things for personal injury lawyers right now – extending empathy to clients and reassuring them that their case remains a priority. The degree of delay right now can cause victims to panic and accept predatory settlements, but appropriate client management on the part of lawyers can minimize the likelihood of this happening.

Court In A Time Of Crisis

Navigating personal injury claims requires that all the right pieces be in place – medical care, legal support, insurance coverage, and much more. As with the problem of case delays, managing all of these moving parts is hard under the best circumstances, but it’s much harder when clients may be out of work and struggling to pay their bills; at that point, their court cases cease to be a priority. Instead, they need to focus on day to day survival. The fact that personal injury lawyers typically operate on a contingent basis can help, but if a client is struggling to pay for their health insurance or rent, it may not be enough.

It’s unlikely that courts, especially in major cities, will resume normal operation in the near future, and when they do, they’ll be facing a serious backlog of cases, as well as an influx of COVID-related litigation. These delays will make personal injury lawyers’ jobs harder and leave clients in limbo for months, at a minimum. Law firms need to prepare for this reality because, when it comes to personal injury cases, delays aren’t just about time – they’re a sign of a system in crisis.

 


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