Can the COVID-19 pandemic impact your personal injury claim?
By Parag P. Bhosale
Now that we are pulling ourselves out of the pandemic, it is important to consider how the short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19 will have on personal injury claims.
We have already seen and will continue to see far fewer claims in the next couple of years. The primary source of injury claims is auto accidents, and we know that during the height of the pandemic, nobody was driving anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary. Less traffic means fewer accidents. In turn, that means fewer claims. What we have seen, however, is that insurance companies have shown a slight proclivity to avoid litigation and settle claims early when they were normally tighter with their offers. I believe this is because the demand for claims personnel dropped during the pandemic. Those who remained were more apt to try to move their claims along – basically trying to show middle- and upper-level management that their job was still needed. The best way to display that worth is to show how many claims they have resolved and disposed of.
For those who have made claims, it is yet to see how jurors will react to a common insurance defense argument: the failure to treat or the “gap” in treatment. This defense basically calls into question the severity of the injury by pointing out that the individual missed doctor appointments, shied away from invasive procedures, or didn’t attend therapy sessions consistently. In other words, if you were really hurt or in pain, you would do whatever was necessary to get better.
Arguably, this defense could be easily countered with the facts of the pandemic. How can you see your doctor when your doctor isn’t allowed to see you? How can you get surgery done when the hospital is only allowing essential procedures? How can you go to therapy when the physical therapy clinic is shut down? Based on these imposed constraints of activity during the pandemic, we believe the treatment “gap” defense is going to be retired for at least the next year.
Difficulty could come in the post-pandemic treatment world. Did the injured party immediately seek medical care once Covid-related restrictions were removed? If not, they better have a good reason. Otherwise, it will be assumed that their injury was so minor that it was “cured” by being home during quarantine. We also foresee that wage loss claims due to injury will be difficult to prove. There will be no practical way to differentiate lost wages due to the injury versus lost wages due to a pandemic-induced employment shutdown.
Regardless of your situation, the issues with your claim can be successfully navigated by an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at Gardi Haught, Fischer & Bhosale were successful in negotiating a $4 million settlement in midst of the pandemic. Contact us to review your matter by clicking on our free case evaluation button below.