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covid-19 and personal injury

Will I End up with a Lower Injury Settlement because of COVID-19?

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted every area of society, and the legal world is no exception. The courts have been temporarily closed for most in-person proceedings, although many meetings and hearings are still being conducted remotely via teleconference or videoconference. Whenever the court resumes a normal schedule, there is likely to be a backlog of cases, which will cause some delays if you are in the middle of a personal injury lawsuit.

Because of disruptions to the court schedule and other issues that have arisen due to the coronavirus, many people are concerned about how long it will take them to receive compensation for their injuries and whether or not they will receive a lower settlement because of COVID-19. This is a valid concern, and in times like these, it is more important than ever to have an experienced attorney in your corner who has the proven ability to recover maximum compensation in even the most complex cases.

What COVID-19 Related Factors might Impact my Personal Injury Settlement?

In addition to court-related delays, here are some other issues that personal injury plaintiffs may have to deal with because of the coronavirus pandemic:

Delays in Medical Treatment

West Virginia and most other states put temporary holds on elective medical care in order to direct resources toward treating COVID-19 patients. West Virginia restarted elective procedures on April 28, but there is still likely to be some lagging delays as the state’s medical professionals get caught up on all of their appointments.

During normal times, it would never be a good idea to delay/postpone medical treatments. You are supposed to get prompt treatment for your injuries, not only to put yourself on the path to recovery, but also to fulfill your legal duty to mitigate your losses. Thorough medical documentation is also needed in order to prove the full extent of your injuries.

All that said, these are extraordinary times, and these could almost certainly be considered “extenuating circumstances”. While there is nothing you can do about medical care that was postponed because of a government order, it is still important to be diligent about keeping the appointments you have and following through on all of your doctor’s recommendations.

Insurance Claim Delays

The insurance companies are fully aware of the delays with the courts, and many of them are trying to take advantage of the situation by unnecessarily delaying injury claims. Insurance is considered an essential business, and insurers have been operating this whole time, although many of their employees are working from home. By dragging their feet on an injury claim, they believe they can pressure a claimant to settle for far less than they deserve.

Financial Problems for Plaintiffs and Defendants

Closely related to the previous issue, COVID-19 has created unexpected financial problems for millions of Americans. Sudden business closures and job losses have put a financial strain on countless households. For personal injury plaintiffs, this makes them highly motivated to receive their compensation sooner rather than later, and this could cause them to accept a lowball settlement offer from the defendant or their insurer.

For defendants, it could mean far fewer financial resources available to settle a claim. For example, if a plaintiff was in the middle of a premises liability lawsuit against a bar or restaurant that is suddenly out of business and on the brink of bankruptcy, they may find it much more difficult to recover the compensation they are entitled to. This factor is especially important in cases in which the plaintiff suffered losses that exceed the liability limits of the defendant’s insurance policy. In a case like this, there might not be as much available to recover as there was just a few months ago.

Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Skilled Legal Guidance during Difficult Times

If you or someone close to you has suffered injury at the hands of another person or party, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to serve your needs. Even in these extraordinary times, we remain fully operational and committed to fighting for every dollar of compensation our clients deserve. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large insurance companies, and we are not intimidated by their vast resources. Over the past four decades, we have successfully stood up for the legal rights of those who have been injured through no fault of their own, and we are ready to go to work for you.

For a free, no obligation consultation with a member of our legal team, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979.

 

how does social media impact your personal injury case

The Dangers of Using Social Media During an Accident Injury Claim

The vast majority of Americans use social media. Many of them regularly access popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram multiple times daily, using it to post photos and status updates, keep up with what their family and friends are doing, and stay current on the news. Under normal circumstances, being active on social media is not likely to cause any major problems, but when you are involved in a personal injury claim, this is not the case.

If you have suffered injury at the hands of another party and you are pursuing a claim for damages, your social media activity could be very damaging to your case. For example, let’s say you were at work on a construction site and you fell from a high elevation and got seriously injured because a contractor working nearby spilled a slippery substance on the platform you were on.

This being a major event in your life, you might be tempted to post some photos of the accident scene and make some comments about what happened. And since you will probably want to reassure your loved ones that you will be okay, you might make overly optimistic statements about your injuries without really knowing their full extent.

All of this might sound like normal social media activity – and it is – but posts and comments like these can be used by the other side to undermine your claim. Here are just a few of the ways your social media posts might damage your personal injury case:

  • Comments Taken Out of Context: Whatever you say on a social media post can be twisted and turned around by the other side. For example, just an innocent update telling your family and friends that you are “feeling much better” could be taken to mean that your injuries were not really as bad as you made them out to be.
  • Posted Photos Used to Misrepresent Your Condition: While recovering from your injury, you might want to do something relaxing with your friends, like go to a spa and enjoy yourself. But be careful about posting photos of you laughing and enjoying yourself with others, because they can also be used particularly to diminish claims for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
  • Comments and Photos Posted by Friends and Family used Against You: Maybe you didn’t post any comments or photos, but others in your circle did. And some of these might involve you, such as photos you are tagged in and comments about your injury or something else you are doing. These could also be uncovered by the other side and used against you.

There is No Expectation of Privacy on Social Media

Many people look at what we have said so far and think, “that won’t affect me, because I have strict privacy settings on my social media profiles”. Don’t be so sure about that. Defense lawyers and insurance companies have vast resources, and they employ investigators who are very tech savvy and have creative ways of finding information about you from social media. For example, someone working for the insurance company could become a friend of your friend, and you might inadvertently accept their friend request not knowing who they are but thinking it is someone your friend knows.

Even if none of that happens, all of your electronic correspondence is discoverable in a legal proceeding and it could be subpoenaed by the other side if they decided to take it that far. So, with this in mind, you should never post anything on social media that you do not want the whole world to see.

When you are involved in a personal injury case, the best practice is to suspend your accounts while the case is ongoing and restart them when it is over. If you are not able to quit social media cold turkey, at the very least, refrain from posting anything or commenting on anyone else’s posts. Also be sure to change your settings so you cannot be tagged in someone else’s post. In other words, only use social media as an information tool and nothing more.

Suffered a Personal Injury in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.

If you or someone close to you got injured through no fault of your own, you will need an experienced attorney to help guide you through the claims process and avoid common pitfalls like using social media while the proceeding is ongoing. If your injury occurred in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.