As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to impact all aspects of daily life in America, many unprecedented challenges and questions are coming to light. For example, with the nation’s health care system overburdened, and with courts postponing hearings and trials for weeks, there are some serious questions about how the outbreak might affect personal injury lawsuits in Oregon, Washington, and other states across the country.
But, before we discuss the potential implications of the COVID-19 crisis, we want to make one thing absolutely clear: If you have been injured and you need assistance, you should seek help promptly. You have the right to seek medical treatment for a serious injury, and law firms throughout the nation (including ours) are continuing to serve clients during the pandemic.
7 Ways the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Could Impact Your Personal Injury Case
There are several ways in which the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has the potential to impact personal injury cases now and in the future. Here are some examples:
1. Some Accident Victims May Find It More Difficult to Obtain Treatment
Many of the nation’s hospitals are overwhelmed as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and health officials are encouraging individuals in many locales to delay seeking non-essential medical care. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, this does not apply to you. Unfortunately, the messages the public are receiving are not as clear as they should be. If you have suffered a traumatic injury and you need medical treatment, or if you are concerned that you could possibly have a serious injury, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Keep in mind, you may need to be patient, and this may be extremely difficult. But, ultimately, seeking treatment as soon as you can will be the best way to protect your health, and it will also be important for preserving your claim.
2. Trial Postponements Will Lead to Delays for the Foreseeable Future
The Oregon courts have delayed most proceedings until after June 1, and the Washington courts have suspended all trials through July 6. Please note that these dates may be revised. This is going to create an extraordinary backlog in the judicial system that is going to delay future personal injury trials for the foreseeable future. This backlog will have a number of impacts on all types of personal injury lawsuits, and it means that accident victims who need to take their cases to trial may have to wait a long time to recover the financial compensation they deserve.
3. Insurance Companies May Not Want Huge Backlogs of Cases
As personal injury trials get delayed, insurance companies may not want to carry huge backlogs of their own. As a result, they might be more amenable to engaging in good-faith settlement negotiations in some cases. However, each insurance company is likely to respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic differently, and accident victims should not assume that they will be able to settle because trials are being delayed.
4. Accident Victims May Feel Financial Pressure to Settle
By the same token, some accident victims will likely feel pressured to settle so that they can pay their bills. A record number of people have filed for unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis, and this means that many Americans are strapped for cash. If you have been injured and have a claim for damages, accepting a personal injury settlement might seem like a way out.
But, even if you are out of work and in need of money, it will still be important not to rush the settlement process. If the insurance companies know you are desperate, they will take advantage of your situation. Before you accept a settlement offer, you need to make sure the offer represents just compensation for your losses. If it doesn’t, you could feel the financial effects of your decision long after the pandemic is over.
5. More Drivers May Be Uninsured or Underinsured
Due to the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 crisis, some people are likely to stop paying their auto insurance premiums. If they do, then they will not be covered in the event of an accident. If you are involved in an accident involving an uninsured driver, then you will need to look to other sources of financial recovery. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, filing a UIM claim may be your best option.
6. Businesses May Not Have the Financial Wherewithal to Pay Claims
Similarly, businesses that have been forced to shut down or that have lost a significant amount of revenue due to the novel coronavirus outbreak might not have the financial wherewithal to pay claims. Ideally, these businesses will still be paying their insurance premiums and coverage will be available. But, if it is not, then accident victims may need to determine what other options they have available.
7. Accident Victims and Their Attorneys Will Need to Work Together Remotely
Finally, while Oregon’s and Washington’s stay-at-home orders remain in effect, accident victims and their attorneys will need to work together remotely. At D’Amore Law Group, we are fully equipped to serve our clients remotely, and we are operating at full capacity during the COVID-19 crisis. Our attorneys are available by phone, text, and email, and we are continuing to meet with our clients regularly while aggressively pursuing just compensation for their accident-related losses.
Schedule a Free Phone Consultation at D’Amore Law Group
Do you need to seek financial compensation for injuries you sustained in a vehicle collision, nursing home abuse, slip and fall, or other accidents? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with one of our experienced injury lawyers in confidence, call us directly or request a free consultation online today.