Published On: Thu, Feb 25th, 2021

How Lawsuits Are Being Handled During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of business, without sparing any industry. Businesses, both small and large, have had to adapt to the new normal. While some of these changes are ultimately positive and progressive, they came at a high cost for several companies and some had to close shop.

But for attorneys and the entire judicial system, the wheels of justice have to keep turning regardless of whether there is a pandemic. In fact, some crimes, such as homicide and robbery, have seen a drastic increase during this period, necessitating more action. The only way to manage this situation was to change how things are done in the courtroom. 

Let’s look at some of these changes and how lawsuits are now being handled during the pandemic.

Notable Changes

Most of the new directives that law firms have had to adapt to came from the government. Their primary aim was to safeguard public health.

Ultimately, some processes had to slow down while others had to adopt new ways of doing things. Some of the common precautions that took place across states include the following:

  • Courts drew a bolder line between essential and non-essential matters, prohibiting in-person proceedings for the latter. 
  • States like California, Texas, and New York suspended jury trials until further notice.
  • Certain courts are prohibited from making non-essential filings.
  • The adoption of new technologies to conduct hearings remotely in order to observe social distancing rules, as mandated by the virus, has become commonplace.
lady justice with scales

photo/ Sang Hyun Cho

Personal Injury Lawsuits

During this pandemic, the laws surrounding personal injury cases have not changed. If you were injured by another person’s negligence, you still have the right to file a lawsuit and claim compensation.

Personal injury attorney offices have been quick to adjust the process so that clients can still receive legal services. 

Most personal injury lawsuits settle before reaching court. Thus, many law firms have switched to phone calls and video conferencing as a primary method of communicating with their clients and involved insurance companies.

For instance, if you were recently injured in a motor vehicle crash, you were likely worried about contracting the virus in a hospital and then again in court. A West Palm Beach car accident attorney can now guide you through the lawsuit process so that you don’t leave home. 

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations dictates the period within which a person can file a lawsuit. Filing your personal injury lawsuit after this time has elapsed renders it invalid. 

Following the first few months of the pandemic, some states such as New Jersey relaxed their guidelines, extending the period for those who were caught up in the turmoil that ensued. Those whose filing period was closing up could file a valid claim even after the assigned time. 

Other states like Florida made additional changes in response to the pandemic, but none of those mentioned an extension of the statute of limitations.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

As an increased number of people cram in hospitals, there is a likelihood of rising medical malpractice lawsuits, COVID-related or not.

If your doctor was negligent and resulted in a personal injury, you still have a right to sue the liable parties for compensation. In most cases, these injuries will result from burnout and overworked healthcare workers as a result of the pandemic.  

What Does the Future Look Like?

As long as the pandemic persists, the situation is not likely to change. Some courts have relaxed previously issued orders, but this does not imply a return to normalcy.

Therefore, everyone has to embrace these new changes. Perhaps the most revolutionary change about how lawsuits are being handled during the pandemic is the inclusion of technology. As such, issues surrounding technology like privacy, security, and literacy should be prioritized now.

Author: Annabelle E

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