Coronavirus and Personal Injury Cases

The novel COVID-19 or “Coronavirus” pandemic has impacted the entire nation. Businesses have shuttered, schools have moved online, and plans have been changed all over the nation. Even in areas where everyday life is starting to slowly grind back into motion, the future remains unclear.

This is particularly true if you have an ongoing personal injury claim or would like to file one. Has Coronavirus affected the legal system? Is your personal injury claim even still valid?

The short answer is “Yes” to both of those questions. Yes, the pandemic has affected the legal system and standard operation procedures. But yes, your personal injury claim is still valid, and you are also able to file a new one.

Filing a Claim When You Are Still Under ‘Stay At Home’ Orders

While many towns and regions are starting to relax their ‘Stay At Home’ orders, many others are still under strict effect. Even in those that are reopening, social distancing is still practiced in most business and legal arenas and will be for quite some time. The first step for filing a personal injury claim will be to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Most of your interaction with them will now be done through online teleconferencing, email, phone, etc.

It’s important to realize that obtaining the documents and other evidence you need for your claim may take a bit longer than usual at this time. When your claim is filed, you will most likely be advised to settle out of court. Not only are most courthouses still closed to the public, but they are also experiencing a backlog of cases. Many hearings are taking place via videoconferencing, which slows proceedings further.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that personal injury cases in general usually take two to three years to reach a settlement, and even longer when matters are taken into court. Because of this, it’s very likely that any new personal injury claims being filed will most likely not see the inside of a courtroom at all during 2020, and possibly not for the immediate years to come.

Other COVID-19 Considerations

It’s not just the courts moving slower. When filing a personal injury claim (or waiting on one that has already been filed), there are many new things to consider because of the ongoing pandemic:

  • The statute of limitations may be affected in your cases, though some states are allowing citizens to obtain waivers when applicable.
  • More people are uninsured now because of income loss, making getting injury compensation more challenging.
  • More businesses are declaring bankruptcy, further making it difficult to collect compensation.
  • Medical evaluations / documents are tougher to get now because of office closures and scheduling restrictions.
  • Both insurance companies and businesses may try to take advantage of the current economic situation you if you are injured on their watch. Always speak to your attorney before accepting any offer.

The Bottom Line

Your personal injury case is currently more challenging to navigate, but it is far from impossible. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before trying to file on your own or worse, assuming that you cannot do so at this time.

lawsuit positive covid-19 test

Can I Sue For Contracting COVID-19?

These are troubling times we live in, and nobody is quite sure when the current COVID-19 pandemic will end. Also known as “Coronavirus”, this illness has been shown to spread easily between people and can cause severe illness and even death. Most areas of the U.S. (and the world) have adopted social distancing and isolation practices, but much of it still comes down to personal discretion. So what if you or someone you love contracts COVID-19 as a result of someone else’s carelessness?

Lawsuits exist in the first place as a means of getting justice after suffering from someone else’s negligence. So, it’s only natural to wonder if you can file suit after getting Coronavirus. The truth is that these situations are still very new, but it is possible to recover damages if there was negligence involved. Here’s what you need to know.

Under What Circumstances Can I Sue for Contracting COVID-19?

There are a wide variety of situations and circumstances in which you may be able to recover damages for you or a loved one contracting Coronavirus:

  • It was contracted at a hospital, nursing home, or other medical facility when protective/preventative measures were not taken.
  • It was contracted at work (or in some cases, on the way to or from work), when you were not permitted to work from home and/or appropriate safety measures were not taken.
  • It was contracted on a cruise ship, when staff members did not practice appropriate caution.
  • It was contracted while under arrest or in jail (contact us to learn more about these circumstances)

Again, there must have been a lack of reasonable care or negligent behavior that resulted in the virus being contracted. Your attorney will look closely at all of the circumstances involved.

What Makes For a Successful Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Successfully recovering damages in cases of personal injury can be broken down to four key factors:

1. The Damages – Unless you have proven damages (physical, emotional, loss of income, etc.), you have no grounds for a lawsuit.

2. Causation – In this case, you must be able to determine, when, where and how Coronavirus was contracted. It’s worth noting that your own responsibility (liability) will be taken into account.

3. Duty to Provide Care – You must be able to establish that the named party (the defendant, or person / entity you are suing) had the responsibility of providing reasonable care that would have helped prevent the virus from being contracted.

4. Failure to Provide Care – You must be able to provide evidence that this reasonable care was not provided or done so carelessly.

Is Recovering Damages for Contracting an Illness Precedented By Any Other Cases?

Even though COVID-19 is considered to be a new illness and the modern pandemic is unprecedented, there are in fact some previous lawsuits that can be used as precedent, that is, setting an example. STI/STD lawsuits (particularly when it comes to permanent conditions like HIV and Herpes) have long existed and have been successful in cases of negligence and failure to inform people of their risk. Likewise,  in 2016 a nurse successfully sued the hospital she worked at when she contracted Ebola from a patient.

Coronavirus lawsuits have already begun as well. For example, the family of a person who died from the virus in Illinois recently filed suit against their employer (Walmart) for not taking the appropriate protective measures.

Because of the success of lawsuits like this, the likelihood of recovering damages in current cases of negligence is very good. That said, it is still important to realize that each case will be different, and therefore it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

In the modern pandemic and economic crisis, every moment counts. If you or a loved one has tested positive for COVID-19, it is important that you do not wait to seek out legal representation. Our team has years of experience recovering personal injury and liability damages, and we are ready to help you.