How Will COVID-19 Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
Among the many things COVID-19 has changed is the civil justice system. With no in-person hearings or jury trials during the pandemic, the courts in Arizona are backed up with delayed and postponed cases. Courthouses, judges and attorneys are doing everything they can, however, to continue resolving personal injury cases remotely during this time.
Limited Access to Medical Care
You may not wish to visit a hospital after an accident during COVID-19, especially if you think your injuries are only minor. It is important, however, to visit an emergency room or schedule an appointment with your primary care physician after a crash, slip and fall, work accident, or another incident. Not only is it critical for your health and physical safety; it will also help your insurance claim. An insurance company will assume your injuries are not serious if you did not go to the doctor. Utilize a virtual appointment if you are high-risk for the coronavirus and do not wish to visit a physician in person.
Alternative Solutions to In-Person Legal Consultations
Expect the client intake process to look different at the personal injury law firm you choose for representation. At Gallagher & Kennedy, for example, our COVID-19 guidelines include remote work, speaking to clients via email and phone, utilizing videoconferencing technology, reducing foot traffic at our offices, maintaining a low-exposure environment, increasing disinfecting procedures, and using social distancing guidelines. We are also implementing preexisting crisis contingency plans to provide uninterrupted services to our clients during the pandemic. We have IT professionals maintaining our state-of-the-art infrastructure 24/7.
No Extension on Statutes of Limitations in Arizona
Law firms are essential businesses that have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. Do not delay in contacting a Phoenix personal injury lawyer about a potential personal injury claim in Arizona. You will still have the same statute of limitations, or deadline, to file your personal injury claim. Lawmakers in Arizona have not announced plans to suspend statutes of limitations on civil claims, although other states have granted extensions. In general, you will have two years from the date of your accident to bring a cause of action. Waiting too long could take away your right to seek recovery.
Equitable tolling of your statute of limitations may be possible in Arizona due to emergency declarations related to COVID-19. This will be a difficult request to argue, however, since clients can still file their claims electronically. It is in your best interest to take legal action promptly, as you would have before COVID-19. Many law firms are continuing to take new clients as they did before the pandemic. You may simply have to opt for communications by computer or phone instead of meeting with your lawyer in person at your home, hospital or law office.
Electronic Claims Filing and Negotiations
Do not expect to have to attend any in-person meetings with your lawyer, a mediator or the defendant during COVID-19. Insurance companies, law firms and courthouses have converted most of their services to virtual. Your lawyer can file a lawsuit, communicate with insurance companies and negotiate for a fair settlement for your damages remotely using virtual processes. You may still be able to receive a fair settlement for your medical bills and property damages with assistance from a lawyer during the pandemic.
If your lawyer cannot successfully resolve your case through pre-trial negotiations, he or she can file a lawsuit electronically and receive a court date from a judge. COVID-19 may impact your case if it goes to trial, as all courthouses in Arizona have suspended their civil trials. Some courthouses continue to host nonessential hearings via telephone.
Many judges in Arizona are making emergency judgments through technology such as videoconferencing. Otherwise, you will have to wait to continue your personal injury trial until it is safe for the courts to reopen. Based on the current state of the pandemic, it may take months to receive a response from a civil court in Arizona about a personal injury claim. A personal injury trial is rare, however, since most cases resolve via settlement.