How Will COVID-19 Impact Personal Injury Claims?
The coronavirus outbreak has taken the world by storm, prompting unprecedented actions by governments around the globe to contain the spread of the virus. Here in Alabama and in most other states, a “stay at home” order was put into place, which included prohibitions of non-essential interactions. Every area of society has been impacted by COVID-19, and this includes the court system.
Access to Alabama courts has been restricted during this time, and only emergency proceedings have been allowed to continue. That said, many hearings and depositions are now being conducted remotely via teleconferencing or videoconferencing if this option is available and all parties are able to access it.
At M. Adam Jones and Associates, we want you to know that we are fully operational and able to continue providing the strong personalized representation our clients have come to expect. We are doing most of our tasks remotely these days as we follow social distancing guidelines, but we continue to meet with clients on a daily basis using tools such as Zoom and FaceTime. We have the technology and resources to handle your case smoothly and seamlessly as we always have.
How Will my Personal Injury Claim be Affected by COVID-19?
In addition to delays in the court system, the coronavirus pandemic has created some other concerns for those who have suffered an injury that was caused by someone else:
For those who have been injured in an accident or event, getting proper medical treatment in a timely manner is critical. This is not only true from the standpoint of your health and well-being, but also in order to fulfill your legal duty to mitigate your losses after getting hurt. In addition, you will need to have extensive documentation of your injuries (both physical and emotional) in order to recover full and fair compensation.
The challenge with COVID-19 (with regards to the healthcare system) is twofold; some elective treatments have been delayed in order to focus resources on coronavirus patients, and some injury victims are apprehensive about seeking medical care when there may be COVID-19 patients in the hospitals and clinics.
With the first issue, there is not a lot that patients can do if their doctor puts a treatment or procedure on hold because of a government mandate. But the good news is that the healthcare system now has plenty of capacity in Alabama and most other places, and the states are opening up full access to elective procedures. This should allow injury victims to get the care they need.
With the second issue, it is understandable that an injury victim would be worried about contracting COVID-19 if they go in for medical care. But it is important to realize that hospitals and clinics are taking every precaution to keep their patients safe.
If there are any coronavirus patients, they are separated from others. Also, everything is sanitized, healthcare workers and patients wear masks, and patients maintain at least a 6-foot distance from each other. The bottom line here is that the risks of contracting COVID-19 if you go into see your doctor are minimal, and it is far worse (for your health and legal claim) to miss appointments and put off essential treatments that you will need to make a full recovery or reach maximum medical improvement.
Pressure to Settle the Claim
Delays with court proceedings combined with tighter finances for many who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 could make injury victims more motivated to settle. Unfortunately, the insurance companies are aware of this as well, and many of them are making the situation worse by intentionally dragging their feet in hopes that victims will settle for far less than they deserve. Now, more than ever, those who have been injured need an experienced attorney in their corner who has a proven track record securing maximum compensation for their clients.
Statute of Limitations
In Alabama, someone who suffers an injury through no fault of their own generally has only two years to file a lawsuit against those who are responsible. If this deadline is missed, it is highly likely that the case will be thrown out of court. Two years may seem like a long time, but it can go by quickly, especially when there are delays with the courts and the likelihood that there will be a backlog in cases when everything gets reopened.
It may be that courts will extend the deadline in some cases because of the unprecedented circumstances with COVID-19, but this is not something you want to take a chance with. In all cases, it is highly recommended that you obtain experienced representation as soon as possible, so you are in the best possible position to secure a favorable result.
M. Adam Jones and Associates is Here for You
If you or someone close to you has suffered injury because of another party’s negligence or reckless actions, M. Adam Jones and Associates is ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at 334-581-9238 or message us online for a free no obligation consultation, which can be held by phone or videoconference. We look forward to serving you!