How has COVID-19 impacted personal injury cases in Ohio?
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Ohio residents live and work so much. It should therefore come as no surprise that COVID-19 has had some effects on personal injury. Lawyers like me continue to advise and represent victims of car accidents, truck collisions, dog bites, and other preventable accidents that lead to injuries and death. However, some of our processes and procedures have changed.
What hasn’t changed
Drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists are still injured – and sadly killed – by people who accelerate, get distracted, fall asleep behind the wheel, or drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Dogs are still attacking. Neglectful homeowners and businesses continue to put guests and customers at risk of slips and falls.
In other words, the stay at home order and social distancing guidelines have not eliminated the causes of personal injury and unlawful death lawsuits. This means that I continued to work through the pandemic, both winning new customers and working on cases that started before anyone heard the term “novel coronavirus”.
Insurance companies and courts have also remained in operation. Filing claims, negotiating settlements and getting police reports, filing testimony and responding to petitions continued despite office buildings being closed and the public being urged to stay away from courthouses.
What is different
Say you have a car accident claim during the COVID-19 pandemic. You are an essential collaborator who cannot do your job remotely. After a long shift, another driver returned home, crossed the center line of the freeway, and slammed into you. What happens then?
First of all, you should receive all adequate medical care. Hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics and doctor’s offices have protocols in place to protect patients from infection. Some of your aftercare will likely be provided through telemedicine, and you may need to figure out how to navigate using non-contact prescription fillings and pickups.
Then contact your own insurance company and the insurer to find the guilty driver. Interactions with representatives of insurance companies and claims adjusters are handled by telephone and email.
You may be asked to join a Zoom call (or other type of video conference). In this case, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney. If you provide too much information to an insurance claims professional too soon, it can be difficult to find a fair solution to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering later.
When the time to reach a car accident attorney, do so by phone or through the attorney’s website. Don’t make many, if any, visits to the office.
With the possible exception of legal proceedings (which would take place months in the future anyway), every stage of your case can be dealt with remotely. Video conferencing, online document sharing, emails, and old-fashioned phone calls should be enough to ensure that all information is shared and all negotiations are conducted fairly. Required signatures can be saved electronically, by fax (still a thing!) Or by post.
Should you ever need to go to court, find and follow the latest guidelines for making an appointment and wearing a mask. The guidelines for the Franklin County’s courts serving the residents of Columbus and its neighboring communities can be found here.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably affected cases of personal injury in Ohio, the public health emergency has not made it impossible to pursue auto accident claims. As long as you are willing to work with your plaintiff’s attorney online, you should be able to bring your damages claims against the person who injured you.
Heit Law was never closed during the pandemic. Based in Westerville, Ohio, the company helps people with all types of personal injury and death. To request a free consultation, call (614) 898-5300 or fill out this contact form.