10 Ways the Coronavirus May Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. Restaurants have closed their doors to dine-in business. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Of course, when society changes, the law changes, too. The Coronavirus may affect personal injury lawsuits by placing increasing scrutiny on all parties involved in the legal system. Parties must be more careful to prove each element of a personal injury claim or build applicable defenses. In addition, the Coronavirus may affect personal injury lawsuits by changing the timelines for court operations and allowing more leniency for teleconferencing and distance testimony.
Our Colorado personal injury attorneys explore 10 ways the Coronavirus may impact personal injury lawsuits:
1. Timelines for Case Processing May Change
Personal injury cases usually operate under tight deadlines. Exceptions have to be made in court orders, far in advance. Adjournments can be hard to get. Under the new normal, trial dates may be put off for long periods of time or indefinitely. Civil cases, including personal injury cases, are often a lower priority to court schedulers than criminal cases. The result may be frustrating delays for personal injury victims who need justice.
2. Teleconferencing and Tele-Testimony May Be the New Normal
You have a right to question and cross-examine witnesses. Usually, courts require witnesses to testify in person so that the jury can evaluate their words and demeanor. However, with the advent of Coronavirus, courts are using teleconferencing more than ever before. What might have been a pre-trial hearing at the courthouse might now be a quick phone call. Coronavirus may make the courts more open and acceptable to alternative methods of appearance in court.
3. Medical Care Is More Important Than Ever
Medical care is the center point of any personal injury case. A victim needs medical care to prove that their injuries occurred, how severe their injuries are and how long their recovery is supposed to last. However, in the age of Coronavirus, people may be afraid to get medical care. On the other hand, they might be willing to get medical care but find that the care they need may be unavailable. All of these factors can play into personal injury law in the Coronavirus era.
4. Delays in Treatment May Cause Additional Damages
If you’re not able to get the medical care that you need, that can cause you to have additional damages and prolonged recovery. Ultimately, if a failure to obtain medical care is because of your own actions, that can limit your compensation. However, if medical treatment is not available to you because it’s deemed non-essential during these times, it can actually increase your personal injury claim. Your pain and suffering may be prolonged.
In the end, your medical bills may be higher. When you’re a personal injury victim, you must make a good-faith effort to do all that you can to get the medical care that you need. However, if your damages go up because care is not available, you may claim your actual economic and non-economic damages in your personal injury claim.
5. Delays in Treatment May Cause Delays In Your Case
Knowing the extent of your injuries and your path for recovery can be crucial to know the value of a claim. It’s often necessary to proceed through the course of treatment in order to understand what a fair settlement is for the case. Delays in treatment can create delays in valuing a case. In turn, that may make it take longer to resolve your personal injury claim in the Coronavirus era.
6. There May Be Additional Scrutiny on Businesses As It Relates to the Duty of Care
Businesses have always had a duty to take care of the safety of their customers. Now that the public is aware of Coronavirus, scrutiny may be on businesses more than ever before. What may have been acceptable practices for sanitation may no longer be enough. The duty of care might evolve because of Coronavirus placing additional scrutiny on business operators.
7. Victims May Have Additional Scrutiny for Contributory Negligence, Too
Just like businesses may have additional scrutiny because of Coronavirus concerns, victims have their duties, too. Every victim has a duty to mitigate damages. That means taking reasonable steps for their own personal safety. Juries may place more scrutiny on victims and their conduct in behaving reasonably and protecting their own safety, especially when it comes to adhering to guidelines set by healthcare authorities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
8. Speculative Damages May Be More Accepted
You can’t see a virus with the naked eye. It may be hard to prove how you contracted a virus. Also, it can be hard to know for sure what your damages are going to be in the long run. However, the Coronavirus crisis may relax how juries view speculative evidence. They may be more likely to decide that the victim has met their burden of proof in demonstrating that they’re the victim of a personal injury accident and deserving of compensation.
9. Fewer Insured Drivers May Make Uninsured Motorist Insurance More Important Than Ever
With more and more people suffering financial hardships because of Coronavirus, people may be unable to pay for their car insurance. The more uninsured motorists there are on the road, the more difficult it may be to win deserved compensation after a car accident. Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage is more vital than ever before.
10. Discovery Rules May Impact the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations begins when the injury occurs. But with Coronavirus, you don’t always know that you’re infected right away. Coronavirus may impact the statute of limitations by using the discovery rule to extend your time to file a claim.
Coronavirus Personal Injury Attorneys
Do you have questions about Coronavirus and your rights? Were you the victim of personal injury related to the Coronavirus pandemic? Call our Coronavirus personal injury lawyers today for a consultation. Our legal team is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve.