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COVID-19 and Injury Claims: What You Need to Know!

By Stewart J. Guss on April 16th, 2020

Our world is changing at an unparalleled rate, leaving many anxious and uncertain. You might not know what day of the week it is, or when you’ll embrace your loved ones next.

Still, we will always uphold our promise to our valued clients: As long as accidents happen, we’ll be here to help. You may have a ton of new questions, like “How will COVID-19 impact my personal injury case?”

Our firm was able to adapt swiftly, offering virtual consultations and case evaluations as our team of legal experts works from home. But what about the other aspects of your personal injury claim? How are they affected by COVID-19? Let’s dive in.

 

Q1: Claims, Courts, & Negotiations: Can I still file a claim?

Federal judges nationwide have moved court operations to virtual spaces. Most courthouses may have shut their doors to the public, but you can still file a personal injury claim. The Office of Court Administration (OCA) recommends delaying in-person court proceedings of any size until at least May 8, and jury trials have been suspended during this period. Luckily, most personal injury cases settle before making their way to trial, but this will, unfortunately, slow the progress of most cases. The good news is that court and legal operations are still in motion, and cases can still move forward.

 

Q2: Will my treatment or surgery be delayed?

Naturally, elective surgeries are being rescheduled, but even cancer surgeries and organ transplants are being postponed. The American College of Surgeons has recommended all surgical procedures be avoided in hospitals that are dealing with overloaded ICUs and ventilator shortages. Some urgent inpatient diagnostic and surgical procedures are being moved to outpatient settings when possible.

What does this mean for your personal injury case?  Depending on the nature of your treatment, and how severe your injuries, you may face some delays in completing your treatment. If this is the case, it is vitally important that you stay in touch with your medical providers to document your pain and symptoms and try to schedule your treatment as soon as it is safe to do so.   It remains important to make sure that you complete all treatment necessary for your injuries before you close your case, even if it takes longer to do so given current circumstances.

If you haven’t been billed for surgery, or other medical procedures, your lawyer can’t properly add that expense to your personal injury claim. They can only present the insurance company with an estimate for any procedures that were recommended. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely consider these estimates at all in their evaluations. For this reason, it’s best to complete all your treatment before moving forward with a potential settlement.

Q3: How do I deal with personal injuries during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Accidents will happen, even during hypervigilant times like these.

You still deserve help, and we’re still here to provide it.

If you get hurt in an accident, reach out to us for help filing a personal injury claim. Our firm will treat you with respect and compassion, adhering to the same client-first service standards we’ve upheld for over 20 years. Our virtual consultations are completely free, and you pay us nothing upfront for our services.

 

Q4: What does my car insurance cover if I get into a car wreck under a state of emergency or stay-at-home order?

It’s always important to keep your auto insurance policy up to date, even if you don’t think you’ll be on the road much. At this time, a stay-at-home order is in effect except for essential activities. Many outdoor activities are prohibited and many public recreation areas are closed. Still, you’ll have to hit the road for food, supplies, medication, and more. Does your insurance policy cover you?

Yes, most car insurance policies will cover motorists, even when they make “bad choices.” This includes if you get into an accident while driving during a stay at home order.

However, don’t risk it unless you absolutely have to. Penalties for violating the stay at home order vary greatly by state, but they tend to involve hefty fines or even jail time. One group of Californians who went to a bar were fined $1,000 each!

Q5: Are statutes of limitations and other deadlines affected?

Statutes of limitations may be affected due to COVID-19 court closures or other obstacles out of your control. Some states have suspended (“tolled”) statutes of limitations for some period of time. In others, it is possible to obtain an electronically-signed statute of limitations waiver. In Texas, the Texas Supreme Court has entered an order pushing back some time limits for lawsuits and other court proceedings. Ask your attorney for more information on how this applies to your case.

Q6: Should I go to the emergency room after a car accident? What about the risk of contracting COVID-19?

You should always seek a professional medical evaluation after an accident in which you’ve suffered an injury, as soon as it is safe to do so. Receiving medical care is crucial – for your health and for avoiding the standard defenses that insurance companies will bring to cases with delays in treatment.  If parts of your treatment are delayed, you can expect the defendant’s insurance company to use any delay as an argument as to why your injuries were “not so severe.” That being said, you should carefully consider your decision and make sure that you proceed safely.

 

Q7: I was injured and have not obtained any medical treatment because I did not want to contract Coronavirus. Should I still call a personal injury lawyer?

No matter what your situation is, contact us to discover your options. Delaying to team up with a lawyer is the biggest mistake you can make after an accident, and a surefire way to reduce the value of your case. One can hope that these delays in treatment during this time will not be treated as negatively by insurance companies given the current circumstances, but there is no guarantee.  The best way to ensure you will be treated fairly by an insurance company is by hiring an experienced and effective personal injury law firm to work with you on your claim.

Q8: Does COVID-19 constitute a personal injury claim?

Short answer: Not by itself.

A personal injury claim arises when an individual or entity’s careless or intentional action causes an injury to another. Getting infected with a virus such as COVID-19 can be considered an injury for purposes of a bodily injury claim.  To reach a valid claim, however, you need more than just an injury. The injury or infection would have to be inflicted by an intentional or negligent act of a third party.  This could arise through improper treatment or negligence from a medical provider, or by an assault by a person with the disease.  Depending on the specific circumstances of your infection, you may have a valid personal injury claim.

The damages you can expect to recover in any personal injury claim include whatever hardship you suffered as a result of the injury, such as related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. If the defendant was particularly negligent or egregious in their behavior, punitive damages might be included as well.

Additionally, if you are a business owner and you have business interruption insurance, speak with a lawyer. If your business has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, you may have a valid claim.

Contact us now. It’s the first step toward getting help to pay for surgery due to a car accident.

Stewart J. Guss
12777 Jones Rd Suite 297
Houston, Texas
(281) 816-3448

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