How is the COVID-19 Outbreak Affecting Florida Personal Injury Claims?
The coronavirus pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down, and every area of our society has been impacted. Florida along with most other states issued a “stay-at-home” order, which was intended to slow the spread of the virus and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. Stay-at-home orders are starting to be lifted and the states are beginning to reopen, but it will be a while before everything returns to normal.
During COVID-19, there has been limited access to the Florida courts. Most in-person court proceedings were halted, and some hearings have been conducted via teleconferencing or videoconferencing. The same holds true for depositions as long as all parties are cooperative and have access to the necessary technology.
Florida’s Chief Justice has recommended a four-phase reopening process, and he has created a workgroup that is comprised of 17 judges and attorneys to help assess the conditions and propose details for how and when each phase would be implemented. The workgroup’s term expires on June 30, and it is hoped that all four phases of the reopening plan will be implemented by then, provided this can be done safely based on the current conditions with regards to the virus.
How Will my Personal Injury Case be affected by COVID-19?
The wheels of justice are turning more slowly these days, and this will likely cause some delays in personal injury lawsuits, the timing of proceedings, negotiations, settlements, etc. There are some other issues related to the coronavirus that could impact personal injury claims as well:
The healthcare system has clearly been affected by COVID-19. As we touched on previously, the primary reason for the stay-at-home orders was to “slow the spread” of the coronavirus in order for our hospitals and clinics to retain sufficient capacity to treat all incoming patients. As a result, many surgeries and other treatments that are considered “elective” have been delayed.
For personal injury victims, the inability to obtain various treatments could pose a significant problem. Of course, the health and well-being of an injured person is the primary concern, and they should be able to get the care they need in a timely manner. Otherwise, their recovery could be hampered.
The good news is that there is now ample healthcare capacity in Florida and almost everywhere else, and elective procedures are becoming available again. So, although you might have had some delays in various treatments during March and April due to COVID-19, you should be able to access them again either now or in the near future.
Another related concern with regards to getting medical care is the apprehension some victims have going in to get treated for their injuries. This is understandable given how contagious the coronavirus is, but it should not prevent you from seeking the treatment you need.
Medical centers are doing everything they can to keep patients safe. For example, everyone is wearing masks, COVID-19 patients are usually housed in a separate area of the facility, all surfaces are kept thoroughly sanitized, and patients maintain at least a 6-foot distance from each other. With all the precautions that are being taken, the risks of someone contracting the coronavirus at a healthcare facility are minimal, and the risk is far greater if you do not go in to get treated for an injury or pressing health condition.
Personal Injury Settlements
Delays in the court system and tighter finances (especially with personal injury victims who may have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus) have made victims more motivated to settle their claims. Some insurance companies are trying to take advantage of the situation by making lowball settlement offers and unnecessarily delaying the claims process. This could make things especially difficult for those who are trying to handle the claim by themselves, because they are far less familiar with the process.
It is important to remember that, even though it may appear that insurance companies have the upper hand right now, this does not mean you have to forfeit your right to full and fair compensation for your injuries. That said, it is more critical than ever to have strong legal counsel in your corner to help get you through this unprecedented situation. By retaining the services of an attorney who has the proven ability to recover maximum compensation, you will be in the best possible position to obtain a favorable outcome – even during times when insurance companies are being especially difficult.
Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett is Here to Help
COVID-19 has presented challenges in virtually every are of life, including pursuing legal claims. At Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett, we want you to know that, despite these challenges, we remain fully operational and ready to serve your legal needs. We continue following all social distancing guidelines and conducting consultations and meetings remotely when needed, but we have the technology and resources to provide the skilled legal representation our clients have always received from us.
Message us online or call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 for a free consultation with a member of our legal team.