Lockdown during COVID-19 should not affect your right to claim for the personal injury compensation you deserve. Circumstances have changed, but your legal rights have not.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you want to make a claim against the person responsible, the process can be slow and frustrating at the best of times. But, add the difficult circumstances and delays caused by lockdown during COVID-19, and you could be in for a long-drawn-out litigation process. So, be aware of the way litigation has changed during the lockdown and follow our five tips for winning your personal injury claim during this difficult period.
COVID-19 has changed the environment for handling personal injury claims from the scene of the incident to the court. At the injury scene, it’s essential to gather the information you need, but social distancing and the risk of catching the virus make this more difficult – especially if you’re somewhere very public like a retail store or shopping center. Fortunately, mobile phones make it possible to capture details on camera, exchange details, and maintain social distancing.
If you need urgent medical attention, that should still be available, but be prepared for delays as hospitals may be continuing to prioritize treatment of COVID-19 patients. It’s important to have your injuries assessed by a medical professional but, with many medical centers running restricted services, it may be difficult to get at a face-to-face appointment.
Telehealth: virtual is the new normal
Remote medicine can help here, holding a ‘virtual consultation’ by video conference so you can obtain an injury report and a treatment plan. However, if you have been seriously injured or been in a car accident, it’s imperative that non-virtual medical help is the first thing you seek – even if you think you’re okay.
In more minor situations, a virtual consultation could be arranged before deciding whether you need to see a doctor in person. Just as hospitals may be busier than usual, treatment will also likely be subject to delay, although waiting times could reduce as the pandemic eases and medical staff return to their normal duties.
Some types of treatment are even moving online, too. The unprecedented circumstances surrounding the outbreak of the coronavirus have led many speech and language therapists to move to online speech therapy, and this telepractice service will likely continue to expand post-crisis.
Note: If you have been injured in a car crash and you are finding you are getting your words mixed up as a result, this could be a result of a serious health issue such as a concussion or a brain injury. Make sure to see your doctor in person, who will check you over and make sure you are okay before recommending speech therapy if the issue is serious.
The same goes for meeting your lawyer. Restrictions on visits to lawyers’ offices may be easing, but if that’s not possible or if your lawyer is working from home, a video conference or a phone call may be enough to discuss your claim and get advice on the next stage of the process.
Courts have been operating in different ways during the lockdown. Some are closed and only handling urgent or high-priority cases. Others may be operating a remote service using videoconferencing and other technologies to handle routine cases, but the lack of normal facilities and staff absences are creating inevitable delays.
Normal rules apply
Despite the unusual circumstances of the lockdown, the basics of making a successful claim still apply. Here are five tips that will make sure you cover all the bases.
1. Gather as much evidence as possible
Without full accurate evidence, your claim won’t stand up when it’s in front of a court or an insurance company. You may be in shock or in pain following an accident, but try to keep a cool head so you can gather the information you need. Write down or record on your phone the circumstances of the accident and get full contact and insurance details of the person that caused the accident.
Make sure you get the contact details of any witnesses as they can help corroborate your version of the incident. If the police attend the incident, ask for a copy of their report. And, make sure you keep the evidence and give it to your lawyer as soon as possible.
2. Get medical assessment quickly
According to the personal injury lawyers at Shuman Legal, “A winning personal injury claim is based on an accurate assessment of your injuries and their impact on your life, and a realistic plan for treatment. You must have the assessment as soon as possible after the incident. If you delay, the other party could claim your condition was caused by other factors.”
The treatment plan should be sufficient to restore you to your normal condition of health and mobility before the incident. It should also take into account the risk of any long-term impact on your health in the future.
X-ray of person with broken collarbone; image by Harlie Raethel, via Unsplash.com.
3. Work with a lawyer
You could simply make a claim on the insurance policy of the person causing the injury. But, it’s unlikely that you will obtain full value for your claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you identify the full impact of the injury on your life and work and will be able to put a fair and realistic value on the amount of compensation to claim. Your lawyer will also ensure that your claim is presented in the best possible way to achieve the right outcome.
4. Be discreet
Lawyers recommend that you don’t discuss your claim with other people who are not involved in the case. You should also be careful about sharing any information on social media that might weaken your case. For example, posting photos or videos of a vacation when you claim to be seriously incapacitated gives the defendants strong evidence to reject or reduce the value of your claim.
5. Don’t delay with your claim
Contact your lawyer as soon as possible so that they can start processing your claim and make sure that you don’t run out of time or miss your spot when a court date becomes available. A timely claim also shows the defendant that you are serious and not just being hopeful about compensation.
Don’t let lockdown affect your claim
Lockdown during COVID-19 should not affect your right to claim for the personal injury compensation you deserve. Circumstances have changed, but your legal rights have not. Make sure you follow the right procedures and work with the right lawyer for a successful outcome.