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How does the COVID-19 Outbreak Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

October 04, 2020

Almost everyone agrees that the spring 2020 coronavirus quarantines, which were probably necessary, had devastating effects. Now, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in some areas. This spike has triggered fears of more lockdowns. This news comes as we are still dealing with the economic, political, health, legal, and other fallout of the first quarantine.

Normal formal and informal personal injury rules are well-established during normal times. But these are clearly not normal times.

Our determined Los Angeles car wreck lawyers do not let a global pandemic infringe on our clients’ legal and financial rights. Accommodations are available during this difficult time, and we help our clients take full advantage of them. This stance helps ensure maximum compensation for your serious injuries.

Coronavirus quarantines affected personal injury cases in many ways. Some of these issues are outlined below.

Client Communications

Normally, most attorney/client communications occur behind closed doors in our offices. For the most part, these consultations are clearly confidential under California law. Future crimes (“I’m going to kill my boss tomorrow”) are about the only exception.

During COVID-19, online video chats replaced many personal consultations. Frequently, someone else was in the room during the call. Technically, a third party’s presence voids attorney-client confidentiality. So, anything said during these interactions could be used against victims in court.

Our professional team knows how to keep these conversations private. So, we can discuss your case online without any fear of collateral damage.

Evidence Collection

Like most other businesses, police departments and other first responder agencies scaled back their services during the spring 2020 lockdown. In most jurisdictions, police immediately responded to life-threatening situations. Activities like interviewing witnesses and collecting physical evidence dwindled to almost nothing.

Lockdown or no lockdown, evidence is critical in a personal injury claim. So, our team partnered with additional private investigators to pick up the slack. 

Seeing a Doctor

Developing a medical history is part of the evidence collection process. In normal times, if the victim does not see a doctor within twenty-four hours, the insurance company often claims the victim’s injuries must not have been very severe. 

Like other emergency responders, many Southern California hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices offered limited hours and services during the spring lockdown. Moreover, authorities advised people not to travel at all. As a result, seeing a doctor straightaway might have been impossible or at least unsafe.

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney must be ready to explain a treatment delay. Insurance companies usually have little backbone in this matter. If an attorney offers any plausible explanation, the insurance company almost always stands down.

Statute of Limitations

Normally, personal injury victims have two years to file legal claims. If they miss this deadline, they automatically lose all rights to obtain compensation in court. Twenty-four months sounds like a long time. But car wreck investigations have a number of moving parts, so the days often fly by. Additionally, most attorneys send demand letters before they file legal claims. It is cheaper and easier to resolve claims this way.

This issue is a problem in some jurisdictions, but Californians can breathe a sigh of relief. On April 9, 2020, California suspended the statute of limitations until the coronavirus state of emergency ends. As things look now, that ending might still be several months away.

Resolving a Claim

Civil courts were mostly closed during the pandemic. But there is a big difference between mostly closed and completely closed, just like there’s a difference between mostly dead and all dead. The wheels of justice continued turning during the lockdown, at least to an extent. Judges still reviewed paperwork and issued orders. That includes areas like subpoena requests for Event Data Recorders.

Furthermore, almost all personal injury cases settle out of court. And, if both sides agree to a financial settlement, judges almost always approve them.The coronavirus lockdown affected personal injury claims, but it did not alter your legal and financial rights. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney, contact the Law Office of Eslamboly Hakim. We routinely handle matters in Los Angeles County and nearby jurisdictions.

Picture Credit: Storyblocks

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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