How Will the Coronavirus Affect Personal Injury Lawsuits in California?
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. Tens of thousands of Americans have perished from the virus, and in response, there have been “shelter in place” orders implemented, countless businesses shut down, and millions out of work. Although some people may not end up getting the coronavirus, no are of society is immune from its effects, and this includes the California court system.
Most California courts are closed to in-person hearings, except for emergency proceedings. Many courts are continuing to hold hearings remotely via teleconference, videoconference, or live streaming, but still, the wheels of justice have slowed down considerably since the coronavirus outbreak started. It will probably be a while before the courts resume a normal schedule, and even when that happens, there is likely to be a significant backlog of cases.
In addition to the likelihood of court hearing delays, there are a number of ways that a personal injury case could be affected by COVID-19. Here are just a few of them:
Possible Delays in Noncritical Medical Care
As the COVID-19 outbreak began to sweep across the country, elective medical procedures and many other types of “noncritical” medical care was suspended so the healthcare system could focus on coronavirus patients. For many personal injury claimants, this has meant having to cancel or reschedule appointments and put various surgeries and other procedures on hold.
Under normal circumstances, delays in medical care would be problematic for someone who is recovering from a personal injury. You are supposed to follow all of the recommendations of the medical professional who is treating your injury, not only so you can recover or reach maximum medical improvement as soon as possible, but also to fulfill your legal duty to mitigate your losses from the injury.
As we all know, however, this is an unprecedented situation, and if you are forced to delay some of your treatments or procedures because of a government edict, that could almost certainly be considered “extenuating circumstances.” The good news is that as the country begins to reopen, elective medical care will be one of the first services to become available again.
Concerns about the Safety of Going to see a Doctor during the Pandemic
Maybe the medical care you needed was available, but you are apprehensive about going into a hospital or clinic with the possibility that COVID-19 patients might be there as well. This is an understandable concern, but it is important to keep in mind that these medical facilities are going to great lengths to keep everyone safe and healthy. For example, everyone is wearing masks and being kept at least a 6-foot distance away from each other, surfaces are continually sanitized and disinfected, and most facilities are keeping coronavirus patients separated from others who are coming in for care.
Although there is still a remote chance of catching the coronavirus from going to a medical facility (as there is when you go anywhere else for that matter), the risk is minimal, and it is far riskier (from the standpoint of your health and well-being) to miss important appointments and intentionally delay the care that you need.
Increased Pressure to Settle the Case
Delays in court proceedings mean waiting longer if you are taking your case to trial. And with finances much tighter for many households (especially those with breadwinners who are no longer working), personal injury claimants may feel a lot more pressure to get the case settled. Unfortunately, insurance companies are aware that many claimants are more motivated to settle, and they are seeking to take advantage of the situation by intentionally dragging their feet on claims and/or presenting lowball offers that do not come anywhere close to representing the true value of the case.
During these extraordinary times, it is more important than ever to seek representation from experienced personal injury attorneys who have the proven ability to negotiate a settlement that fully and fairly compensates their clients, or to successfully pursue litigation if necessary.
Contact Garmo & Garmo for Help with your Personal Injury Claim
If you or someone close to you suffered injury at the hands of another person or party, do not put your claim on hold because of the coronavirus situation. Delaying your claim and not getting the medical treatment you need in a timely manner will make it far more difficult to recover the compensation you deserve.
At Garmo & Garmo, our office remains fully operational and ready to serve your needs even in the midst of COVID-19. We are taking all of the precautions and following all social distancing guidelines, but we have the technology and resources to provide the same level of quality representation our clients have come to expect.
If you are in San Diego, El Cajon, or anywhere in Southern California, message us online or call our office today at (619) 441-2500 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.