How Is the Coronavirus Affecting Personal Injury Cases?
At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., one of the most commonly asked questions we hear is, “How is the Coronavirus affecting personal injury cases?”
Fortunately, the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be over. Businesses are back open, the shelter-in-place orders in New York expired some time ago, and vaccinations are readily accessible. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to have an impact on personal injury cases in New York, and throughout the entire country. If you are filing a personal injury claim, it is important to know how the pandemic may continue to affect it. Our New York City personal injury lawyer explains further below.
Delaying Medical Care
Almost as soon as the pandemic hit in early 2020, hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units started to fill up with patients suffering from COVID-19. Hospitals were a hot spot for the virus and that meant that people feared visiting one for other injuries incurred during an accident. In fact, in June of 2020, the CDC issued a report stating that 41 percent of American adults avoided getting medical care or delayed treatment, out of fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Although pressure on the hospitals has somewhat subsided, they are still very busy places and the virus is still present in many of them.
Delaying treatment after a personal injury is very risky to any personal injury claim you may file. If you do not seek treatment right away, your injuries could become worse and make them harder to treat in the future. Additionally, if you do not obtain medical treatment immediately after an accident, the liable party and the insurance company that covers them will also argue that you were not hurt because you did not see a doctor. That could reduce the amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
Backlogged Court Systems
The courts in New York are notoriously backlogged. This is one reason taking a case to trial instead of settling out of court takes so much longer. The pandemic only compounded the problem of backlogged courts in the state. In 2020, the courts in New York never actually closed and emergency orders were still heard when there was just cause. However, non-essential cases, including personal injury lawsuits, were barred from being filed for two months during the pandemic.
The two-month ban on filing cases resulted in a deluge of cases being filed once courts reopened. In just one day after reopening for non-essential matters, 475 new cases were filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court alone, one of the busiest courts in the country. The number of new cases being filed means injured individuals will have to wait until their case is closed to receive any compensation, making it more challenging as bills and daily expenses pile up.
Lower Settlement Offers
While it is true that it may take longer to even schedule a trial, let alone wait for a decision to be made in one, that should not persuade you to accept a low settlement offer from the liable party or insurance company. Insurance companies are well aware of the backlogged schedules of the courts, and that it remains a deterrent for people to file a personal injury lawsuit to claim the fair damages that are justly theirs. As such, many are offering very low settlements, hoping accident victims will be happy to receive any compensation, even if it is not for the full amount.
It is important to remember that you only have one chance to claim damages in a personal injury lawsuit. If you accept a lower settlement offer from the insurance company or liable party, you cannot go back at a later date and attempt to claim more. You should never accept any settlement offer until a New York City personal injury lawyer has reviewed it. A lawyer can also negotiate for the fair settlement you deserve and will not allow the insurer to try tactics that will reduce your offer.
Statute of Limitations Tolled in Many Cases
During the pandemic, the New York Supreme Court and district courts issued several orders in response to shelter in place and lockdown orders. Many courts extended the statute of limitations in personal injury cases. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit. If you allow the statute of limitations to expire before you have filed your claim, you will forfeit your right to claim any compensation at all.
However, the Florida courts realized that the closures made it impossible for injured individuals to file their lawsuits on time. Due to this, the statute of limitations on many personal injury cases was tolled. Even if the statute of limitations was tolled on your case, you must speak to a New York City personal injury lawyer who can advise on your claim and make sure it is filed on time.
More Car Accident Cases
As people throughout New York City were told to shelter in place and lockdowns continued for months, there were fewer vehicles on the road. People simply had no place to go. It is natural to assume then, that there were fewer car accidents. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the National Safety Council and the Federal Highway Administration, motorists drove 13.9 percent fewer miles in the first few months of 2020 than they did in 2019. However, the number of motor vehicle fatalities increased during the same period by 16 percent.
There have been several reasons for the increase in fatalities. With fewer people on the road, motorists were more likely to drive recklessly, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some authorities also say the increase in impaired driving could be due to the decline of overall mental health in the public due to a loss of income, loss of loved ones, and other burdens associated with the pandemic.
Car accident cases are always some of the most common types of personal injury claims filed. Post-pandemic, those numbers will continue to increase, contributing to the backlog of the courts and leaving some injured individuals to wait longer to collect the damages they are entitled to.
Our Injury Lawyers in New York City Can Handle Your Claim
We hope we answered all your questions with this guide on how Coronavirus is affecting personal injury cases. The pandemic had a massive impact on every aspect of life, including personal injury claims. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our New York City personal injury lawyers can advise on the facts of your case and how COVID-19 may have impacted it. We can also help you overcome any obstacle that may arise in your claim. Call us now at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.