How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Personal Injury Case?
Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 at 2:20 pm
At Hach & Rose, LLP, our team has taken a proactive approach to providing continued legal services to our current and prospective clients. Our team has been preparing for more than three weeks for the current situation in our city and state, and we’re confident in our ability to continue to serve you to the best of our ability.
What is the status of the Coronavirus situation in New York?
According to the New York Department of Health, all schools must be closed by Wednesday, March 18th and remain closed for two weeks (ending on April 1st). Bars and restaurants are closed, but takeout options remain available. Essential businesses, including grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and medical facilities, are allowed to stay open until 8:00 p.m. each day.
Mayor DeBlasio has also indicated that New York City residents should prepare for a “shelter in place” order requiring all people to stay at home for non-essential activities.
The state has also asked for qualified healthcare professionals who have retired to consider returning to work temporarily to supplement the state’s hospital capacity.
Your case is important, and should not be put on hold
If you have been injured in an accident, you have many concerns. First, if you are unable to work and pay your medical bills, you may be depending on the resolution of your personal injury claim to feed your family and pay your living expenses.
As you may already know, the spread of COVID-19 has led to court closures across the country and specifically in New York State.
What does this mean for your case? The result of these court closures is that cases cannot proceed to trial, and your case cannot move as quickly towards resolution as it should. People who defend the lawsuits do not currently have the pressure of a jury trial to force them to make a decision about settling your case. This reduces the amount of leverage that your lawyer has to push your case towards resolution.
What should I do if I have an ongoing personal injury matter?
Take a look at the law firm that is currently representing you. One thing you can do is make sure that the law firm that is currently representing you is equipped to handle the Coronavirus outbreak while continuing to push your case towards resolution.
Not all firms have the infrastructure and resources to continue serving their clients in the way they should. They may not be set up to diligently continue working on cases, responding to client questions, and collaborating as a team to keep the case on track.
What type of firm is best equipped to handle the current COVID-19 outbreak? The most prepared personal injury firms will be those that are entirely paperless.
What does that mean? It means that if the law firm representing you has already invested in paperless technology and digital infrastructure (including remote computer access and other essential functions), their legal team can continue to work on your case while the courts are shut down, and many offices are closed. Firms like ours with state-of-the-art technology are continuing to work through the Coronavirus pandemic.
Make sure that your law firm continues to be aggressive. One vital part of the legal process that can still take place is arbitrations and mediations. These proceedings take place out of court, usually with the guidance of a retired judge or attorney where the sides meet in an attempt to resolve your case.
Arbitrations and mediations can take place in small, private offices that have not been shut down due to the Coronavirus, or they can even be conducted remotely by video conferencing technology.
Another critical factor is ensuring that the discovery process continues. Firms that are paperless and have remote access can continue to submit materials, exchange discovery materials, and even make motions to the court seeking relief. The New York Courts are on an e-filing system and are continuing to accept paperwork through this process. Law firms that are properly set up to work remotely can continue to push your case towards resolution.
Depositions are also a significant step in a personal injury case. If your law firm has adopted state-of-the-art technology, depositions can be conducted remotely via Skype, Google Hangout, or other video conferencing methods while adhering to state and Federal social distancing recommendations.
What should I do if my current law firm cannot represent me remotely?
Carefully consider the law firm that is currently representing you. If they are a smaller firm or an older firm that does not have the financial and technological resources to withstand the Coronavirus and continue to be aggressive, you should consult with another law firm.
Not all firms are prepared to handle a pandemic of this proportion, and your case shouldn’t suffer because your lawyers are not equipped to handle your case during this trying time.
Now is the perfect time to switch lawyers. If you were to change law firms, you would still pay the same legal fees that you would otherwise. For example, in the State of New York, your fee agreement with your attorney should be one-third of the recovery. If you switch firms, your former law firm will receive part of the one-third fee which you agreed to for the work they have performed. Your new law firm will receive the remainder. This means that you will not pay any additional money for switching law firms.
Now is the time to make sure you have the right law firm representing you. If you aren’t confident in the attorney you’ve hired, now is a great time to make sure that you have the right people behind you. Want to know more about changing your attorney? Read our in-depth article here.
Hach & Rose, LLP is prepared to handle your case, regardless of the situation
The team at Hach & Rose, LLP knows how stressful this unprecedented pandemic situation can be for you and your family, especially if you have an active personal injury claim in progress. Rest assured that our firm is prepared to provide the same top-notch legal services as always, and we are actively encouraging those with other representation to consider switching to us.
We are following best practices to protect both our employees and our clients as COVID-19 continues to disrupt daily activities in our city, state, and across the country. Fortunately, we’ve already prepared for such disruptions, and our focus on paperless legal work, remote computer access, remote meetings and consultations, and other high-tech methods have positioned us to provide uninterrupted legal services.
We urge you to contact us immediately at (212) 779-0057 to discuss your case and get the qualified legal help you need during this trying time.