The ongoing coronavirus emergency continues to disrupt most people’s lives in some way, and the judicial system is no exception. Several people have asked us whether COVID-19 could affect a car accident case, whether it’s a pending case that’s already in progress or a case that would come up because of a wreck happening during this health emergency.
The honest answer is we are in uncharted territory with this situation. Everyone in society is. As Dallas personal injury lawyers, we do think the coronavirus could have an impact on litigation, and specifically on injured people’s medical treatment and financial positions after a crash.
In this article, we’ll highlight a few of the things we’re thinking about as car accident lawyers during this strange time in our nation’s history.
How Long Will COVID-19 Limit Courts?
Many Texas courts are closed indefinitely or operating on a very limited basis due to COVID-19. Most courts are only hearing emergency cases like restraining orders and criminal arraignments. This obviously disrupts all cases that are currently pending. But even when courts reopen, how long will it take to get on the calendar considering the backlog of cases that’s building up?
What Could Happen to Police Responses?
The entire emergency response infrastructure depends on the availability of 911 operators, dispatchers, police and other responders. According to this CNN report, police around the country have changed the way they operate because of COVID-19:
- Some stations are closing their front desks
- Some departments are not responding to non-urgent calls
- Social distancing could make it tougher for police to contact and communicate with witnesses
We’ve heard reports of dispatchers telling callers that if no one needs to go to the hospital then an officer won’t be sent to the scene. Instead, the crash victim is told to deal with the insurance company on their own.
Could Financial Circumstances Lead to More Uninsured Drivers?
Millions of Americans have lost their jobs already, and more will become unemployed the longer this crisis continues. More people may decide they just can’t afford to pay car insurance, leading to more uninsured cars on the road. That’s a problem because in an accident the first source of compensation is the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
Will Medical Treatment Remain Available?
If hospitals become too overwhelmed, they could be forced to only treat the most seriously injured, those who need emergency lifesaving help. Or, a car accident victim may be afraid of going to the hospital out of fear of getting infected with coronavirus. Either way, it’s important to get medical treatment as quickly as possible, both for their health and to start building a medical record for use in litigation.
We’re Still Here for You
Ted B. Lyon & Associates in Dallas remains available to serve new and current clients. Our attorneys are following all social distancing recommendations, and we’ve been using video tools and conference calling to move things along while keeping clients and our staff healthy.