Coronavirus Series: How Will the Pandemic Affect My Claim? – Part I

June 17 2020 | Blog
  • All of us have been affected by the pandemic caused by novel coronavirus. In this series of articles, we present helpful information that can help you and your family stay safe. We also try to answer the most pressing questions you may have regarding how this outbreak may affect your potential and ongoing personal injury claims.

    As the novel coronavirus pandemic enters its fifth month in the US (at the time of the writing of this article), we see more and more areas of our life being impacted. Each and every one of us has had to adjust our daily routines and cherished personal habits. A fortunate few were able to adapt to working online. Meanwhile, tens of millions have sadly lost their jobs due to the unfolding economic downturn and were forced to file for unemployment benefits. Our heart goes to each member of our community who has been adversely affected by this global health crisis.

    As personal injury lawyers, we are keenly aware that this pandemic poses unique challenges to ongoing and potential injury claims. We recognize that social distancing measures, as well as the limited availability of certain medical products and services, may add greatly to the uncertainty we’re all facing. However, we are glad to confirm that we have been able to remain fully operational even as we continue to follow the updated guidelines and recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our local governments.

    Still, if you have sustained injuries in accidents caused by another party–either during or before the current coronavirus outbreak–you may wonder how to proceed with your claim under these circumstances. Or you may be unsure whether it is even possible to successfully introduce a claim at all. 

    In this article, we aim to address such doubts, answer any immediate questions which our current and potential clients may have, and provide helpful advice in these uncertain times. We will focus on three major areas in which your injury claim may be affected.

    How Continued Treatment Impacts Your Claim

    After an accident, every injured person’s priority is to recover and reattain full health and physical capacity as soon as possible. In many cases, this is achieved by initial treatment received right after the accident and long-term care and rehabilitation. 

    Maintaining the continuity of your medical history is of tantamount importance from the perspective of a personal injury claim for at least the two following reasons. 

    Maximum Medical Improvement

    First, it is often impossible to bring a claim to its successful resolution before you have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). This legal term describes a point in treatment where your condition cannot be further improved. 

    Only after your health has reached this stage will your attorney be able to accurately calculate the monetary value of all the losses sustained and estimate the complete worth of your injury claim.

    Continuity of treatment

    Second, continuity of treatment is an important element of a strong injury claim. If you choose to stop seeking medical attention after the accident or discontinue treatment before its completion, the lawyers of the at-fault party will likely try to exploit this fact. 

    For example, they may argue that your injuries weren’t in fact that serious or that their supposed impact on your life is being exaggerated to maximize compensation. Therefore, maintaining continuous treatment and ensuring that your medical history is well-documented will prove to be essential in countering such arguments.

    How to Preserve the Continuity of Your Treatment and Medical History During a Pandemic

    Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country, obtaining certain kinds of treatment and preserving the continuity of medical history might be a challenge. Many hospitals have reached their maximum capacity due to the influx of patients with coronavirus. Other medical facilities in areas that haven’t been hard may still be turning down patients requiring non-critical care as they’re not only trying to practice social distancing but also are gearing up to receive more patients in the coming weeks.

    For these reasons, you may struggle to reach MMI when you find it difficult to obtain certain medical services like physical therapy. Receiving in-person care and medical attention may be near impossible as long as tight social distancing measures are in place. 

    Naturally, the challenges may cause you discomfort and stress. However, you can still do much to maintain the continuity of your medical history, taking care of both your health and your prospects of a successful resolution to your claim. 

    With these goals in mind, here are some proactive steps to take:

    • After an accident, if you have sustained non-critical injuries and are unable to get an appointment in your local medical center immediately, document your initial injuries as well as you can. This may include taking pictures and writing down your symptoms and describing pain or any other sensations you are experiencing.
    • As much as you can, try to obtain the medical attention you need remotely. Some physical therapists and other physicians are now offering virtual visits through Zoom or other channels.
    • Start your personal injury journal and describe how your condition and your injuries change over time. Include important details such as any medication you’re taking for your injuries, including over-the-counter drugs and painkillers.
    • Monitor your local COVID-19 situation and stay in touch with your local medical providers to learn when it may be possible and safe for you to seek the in-person treatment you need in a facility of your choice.

    Next week, in the second part of this article, we will look at two other aspects of the personal injury process that might be affected by the pandemic. We will also provide reasons why persevering with a compensation claim despite the current circumstances isn’t nearly as impossible as it may seem at first glance.

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