Coronavirus: Will The Virus Affect Florida Personal Injury & Auto Accident Cases?
As an Orlando personal injury lawyer, I’ve received many inquiries lately regarding how the coronavirus might affect personal injury lawsuits. So I wanted to share a few thoughts, because the coronavirus COULD have an impact on your ultimate case value. We are staying fully informed about how the virus is affecting our cases — and advising our clients of how to best maintain their case value.
Personal Injury Victims MUST Receive Medical Treatment To Maximize Case Value
Probably the most important issue is that, to maximize the case value of personal injury or car accident lawsuits, our clients must receive extensive medical treatment. Sometimes this involves emergency surgery. Other times the process is slower, starting with physical therapy, and, if that doesn’t work, perhaps leading to injections, and then sometimes surgery months down the line. So our clients often have many therapist and doctor’s appointments, over an extended period.
Here’s the important point though: to maximize your accident case value, you MUST receive all of the doctor-recommended treatment. So one concern is that people might be afraid to keep their medical appointments, because of the coronavirus outbreak. Unfortunately, fear of this virus, as a reason for not receiving medical treatment after an accident, will not change the fact that the treatment is needed to maximize case value.
Now, if the hospitals become overrun with coronavirus patients, and you literally can’t get a doctor’s appointment, then that might only lead to delays in treatment (rather than a reduction in case value), and therefore delays in resolving cases (because we can’t settle a case, or file a lawsuit, until treatment is substantially finished).
The important thing is to be diligent about getting treatment. If for some reason you cannot get an appointment, perhaps due to the coronavirus, then you need to keep us fully informed, and be diligent about trying to get the first available appointment that you can. Again, without treatment, we simply cannot PROVE the extent of personal injuries (something we are required to do, with medical records showing all doctor recommended treatment, to get the most money in any case).
Keeping your medical appointments is still very important to case value, and that’s not going to change, unfortunately.
Update!! Thankfully, most doctor’s offices are taking extreme safety precautions, including not allowing people in waiting rooms, frequent temperature checks for staff and patients, interviews with patients regarding their health status before appointments, masks for staff and patients, planning for distancing between patients, and the like.
That being said, we will discuss any unique issues with all of our clients, and devise the best game plan in their specific situation.
More People Might Stop Paying Insurance Premiums
Next, if we have a significant financial recession, more people might not pay their insurance premiums, which means that fewer drivers on the road will have coverage. If someone without coverage causes your accident, then there might not be any money to recover from them. But we can get this information within the first month of your hiring us, from their insurance company. (For this reason, it is always advisable that everyone carry at least 100K, and preferably 300K or more, of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, on your own policy. This type of policy covers you if someone else isn’t carrying sufficient insurance. Speaking of which, if you have UM, then we definitely pursue recovery for your injuries under your own policy, regardless of whether the at-fault driver still has coverage.)
Hopefully lack of coverage will not be a widespread issue but it probably will be a greater possibility.
Courthouse Schedules or Procedures May Change, Or Be Delayed
As far as the actual lawsuits, many courthouses around the country are either closing, or modifying their procedures to work more remotely. So far, the Orange County Courthouse has not closed. But they could. If that happens, or if we modify procedures, we expect cases will take longer to resolve. But you can rest-assured that we will do everything within our power to move the cases along as quickly as possible, within whatever constraints are set by the court.
The Florida courts ARE closely monitoring the situation, which includes enhanced courthouse cleaning, “social distancing” at the courthouse, and remote transactions, whenever possible.
The good news is that if you are a new client today, most likely we will either be able to resolve your case without a lawsuit (which means you would never have to go to the courthouse), or, if we have to file a lawsuit, you will only be required to attend a couple of events, and those would be many months from now, possibly over a year from now, depending on the potential value of your case.
So really the biggest issue is making sure you continue necessary medical treatments for your accident injuries, during this difficult time with the coronavirus.
Update! Jury trials have been suspended temporarily. And other court-related work is happening virtually. This could change but we are closely monitoring. And this is not likely to affect new clients because the courts will probably open before their cases have court related events.
Insurance Companies May Fight Harder, Trying To Pay Less In Claims
Insurance company profits may also decline. This may cause insurance companies to fight harder before settling auto accident cases. That’s not a problem for us because we fight hard for all of our clients, all of the time. We also put strong pressure to take the case to trial (which insurance companies fear), if the insurance companies do not offer reasonable amounts to settle cases, based on the historical value of similar cases.
Those are the obvious areas of concern right now. If other issues develop over time, we will update this page.
MOST IMPORTANT SECTION: Absolutely Do Not Delay Your Personal Injury Case Because Of The Coronavirus!
Despite a few potential road blocks, the biggest mistake you could make, if you were recently injured in an accident, is WAITING until after this crisis passes to call us (unless you are too sick to call — then obviously you need to take care of yourself until you feel well enough to at least call!) DELAY in hiring a lawyer is probably the biggest way to reduce your likely case value. Even a few days of delay in starting treatment can significantly reduce case value.
We Can Handle Your Case Remotely, Thus Reducing Your Exposure To The Coronavirus
Along those lines, we take calls from injured clients 24/7/365. We can also speak with you extensively by phone, and complete the entire intake process electronically (by email & phone). So you will not have to worry about going to another public place, and risking germ exposure! That being said, if you really want an in-person consultation, we still have available appointments, and will even come to you, in serious injury or accident cases. Call or text anytime (407) 803-2139.
If you were recently involved in an accident that caused serious injuries, please do not delay calling us ASAP, despite the concerns regarding the coronavirus. We are well-equipped to handle the possible disruptions — and continue to maximize our clients’ case values.Share