Can COVID-19 Affect your Personal Injury Case?
To avoid transmitting the coronavirus, many workplaces have either instituted social distancing measures or closed down entirely. Courts are not exempt from this precaution, since court cases involve being and speaking in close proximity of other people. To curb the transmission, courts have taken a few measures that have temporarily disrupted hearings, including personal injury cases.
Moreover, the coronavirus has affected personal injury cases in ways other than court closures. Whether you’ve been injured due to negligence here are some of the issues you can expect to face.
On March 18th, Arkansas announced state-wide closure of in-person court proceedings. This has hindered processing cases and has contributed to a backlog of court cases. An additional problem is the possible violation of the sixth amendment. Due to the difficulty of conducting hearings, people may find their right to a speedy trial violated. Violating this right is grounds to dismiss a criminal case.
Fortunately, restrictions have begun to ease throughout the United States. Moreover, many courts are adjusting to the new environment. Incarcerated defendants are appearing for their hearings through video conferencing and some courts are seeking larger premises to maintain social distance.
Courts are also considering extending court deadlines to preserve the right to a speedy trial in criminal cases. Nevertheless, it’ll take some time before courts clear their backlog. Personal injury cases are not the only kinds of civil cases that are flooding courts. In fact, given the eviction freeze and rising unemployment, courts could see a massive influx of eviction cases. Even if courts open up as scheduled, your court hearing may not be as punctual.
A plea bargain in a criminal case is when a defendant pleads guilty in exchange for fewer charges or a reduced conviction. Generally, plea bargains only take place in criminal cases and criminal courts. However, some personal injury cases can be prosecuted as both a civil wrong and a crime. For example, suppose a person becomes offended by someone else’s speech. The offended person then attacks the speaker and injures them, say by breaking their arm. This case of the battery can be pursued both civilly and criminally.
This defendant would accept assuaged charges to avoid unhealthy prison environments and reduced costs amid difficult economic conditions. Prisons throughout America are at or nearing their full capacity for prisoners. Moreover, the high rate of recidivism (repeat offenses) will keep prisons full and/or overcrowded for some time. On top of that, prisons don’t only host prisoners, guards and other prison personnel occupy the same space. This will likely make prisons a hotbed for the spread of the coronavirus, something which any offender will try to avoid. Moreover, spending time in prison means many of their assets and expenses will be left unattended.
The problem for personal injury cases is with how the defendant admits their guilt in the plea bargain. The defendant can submit a no-contest plea (otherwise known as a nolo contendere). This isn’t exactly an admission of guilt. Rather, the defendant states that they won’t contest the charges against them. The problem with a personal injury lawsuit is that this admission cannot be presented as evidence of liability in a civil case. With rising pressure to settle cases outside court, this could be a problem for the victims in personal injury cases.
Due to worsening economic and health conditions, there are a few obstructions in receiving compensation for a personal injury case. First, some defendants may not be able to pay compensation out of their pockets. If these defendants don’t have insurance, a victim may not be able to claim sufficient compensation. Moreover, due to the difficult economic conditions, people may not be able to keep up with their insurance payments. Consequently, the odds of being hit by an uninsured vehicle are greater than normal.
If the defendant does have insurance, then the issue defers to insurers. If they don’t have insurance, then you could pursue compensation from your own insurance company. In either case, insurance companies can delay compensation. Insurers are aware of the difficult economic conditions pervading the states at the moment. They may try to leverage your need for compensation and offer you a low settlement to preserve their bottom line.The resulting offers may be insufficient to meet your needs, which would necessitate going to trial. Amid the backlog, this would likely be a lengthy process.
Medical Attention and Care
The basis for compensation in a personal injury case is the cost of treating, the age of the injured, and the extent of the damages. Medical documentation is key evidence for the extent of one’s injuries and the cost of treating them.
The coronavirus has increased the burden on every state’s healthcare system. Industries, including the healthcare industry, are struggling to adjust to the demand for healthcare and personal protective equipment. The influx of coronavirus patients has also turned many hospitals into hot zones for the spread of the virus.
The problem for the plaintiffs of personal injury cases is twofold. First, due to the demand, you may find yourself waiting longer to receive treatment. Second, due to the coronavirus, you may risk further injuries by visiting a hospital, due to the prospect of contracting the virus. With an overloaded healthcare system and the apprehension of visiting hospitals, it may take more time to get the documents needed to make a case.
Finally, the heightened risk of infection could compound your situation by causing two personal injury cases. If your part of an at-risk group, such as the immunocompromised or elderly, the risk of damage due to medical negligence or medical malpractice is enhanced. When you receive medical treatment, it is recommended that you continue to practice social distancing.
If you have suffered an injury and are in Little Rock, Arkansas, you can contact The Law Offices of Lisa Douglas to represent you in court or negotiate with an insurer for your personal injury case.