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Car Accident Claims During COVID-19

Car Accident During COVID-19COVID-19 Obstacles Shouldn’t Stand in the Way of Your Car Accident Claim. Here’s why.

A serious car accident makes life so hard in so many ways. Most people don’t realize, unless they’ve been through it themselves, how difficult the aftermath of a crash can be.

Recovering from your injuries isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a frustrating amount of time and often means enduring a great deal of suffering and working hard to reach milestones in rehabilitation. There are physical, financial, and emotional consequences that can leave you feeling isolated.

To make matters worse, the car accident injury isn’t the only problem you’re dealing with right now. The coronavirus pandemic has compounded and complicated everything.

Concerns like the safety of in-person medical treatments and meetings with an attorney are understandable worries during a time of contagious illness. However, letting the coronavirus stop you from getting help for your claim could affect your future in the long run – especially if it stops you from making a physical or financial recovery.

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Car Accidents During COVID-19

How has COVID-19 affected the car accident rate? The outbreak has certainly cut down on traffic, but not every area has seen a decrease in accidents or deaths.

Even though at least 20 states have reported seeing a drop in fatal accidents, other states – like Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Minnesota – have reported increases in total traffic deaths during the period of the pandemic or in traffic deaths per mile traveled, CBS News reported. Authorities across the country have noted measurable increases in reckless driving behaviors, including a 30 percent increase in drivers speeding at rates over 100 mph.

Authorities have noted increases in reckless driving behaviors

Can the Pandemic Contribute to Car Crashes?

In both direct and indirect ways, the coronavirus has caused or contributed to collisions, some of them deadly.

  • Being seriously ill, no matter what’s causing the illness, impairs a driver’s abilities behind the wheel. Some researchers have suggested that sick drivers perform even worse than drunk drivers, presenting findings that driving skills decrease by as much as 50 percent among sick drivers, a drop that’s equivalent to driving after drinking “four double whiskeys.” A driver sick with the coronavirus, even in cases not severe enough to require hospitalization, could pose a risk to other drivers on the road.
  • It’s not just illness itself that can make a sick driver dangerous, but also the medications they take to treat symptoms. There are still no known treatments proven to be effective for COVID-19 and approved by the FDA for this purpose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. However, sick people may attempt to treat more mild cases of COVID-19 with the same over-the-counter drugs used for colds and other common ailments. Some of these drugs, like cough medicines, can make users drowsy and impair their ability to drive.
  • Wearing a mask is one of the recommendations for reducing exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19, but it must be done safely. Generally speaking, wearing a mask is considered safe. Doctors and medical staff often wear masks for long periods of time with no ill effects. However, it is possible, especially in people with certain underlying health conditions or risk factors, that wearing a face mask could cause you to feel lightheaded or pass out, NJ.com reported – and that would be disastrous behind the wheel. If drivers are wearing a mask behind the wheel, they should pay attention to any changes in how they feel and, if needed, remove the mask carefully. The mask should also be worn correctly and should not obstruct the driver’s vision, either directly or indirectly, by causing the wearer’s glasses to become fogged.
  • Fewer cars on the roads may contribute to reckless behavior behind the wheel. Amidst lock-downs, there have been fewer cars on the road. And, while you might expect this drop in traffic to equate to a drop in accidents, that hasn’t been the case everywhere – and authorities believe the reduction in traffic has resulted in an increase in reckless driving behavior, according to NPR.

Whether the COVID-19 pandemic played a big part, a small part, or no part at all in your collision, you have the legal right to seek compensation. Illness, being under the influence of medication, failing to remove a mask if feeling lightheaded, and driving recklessly are not acceptable excuses for the other driver’s failure to maintain control of the vehicle.

Can I Really Pursue a Car Accident Claim in the Age of COVID-19?

Yes, you absolutely can move forward with a car accident claim in spite of the chaos caused by a global pandemic. In fact, you should, because waiting could do your claim a real disservice.

Some of the obstacles that are keeping car crash victims from moving forward with their claims include:

  • Worries about safely getting medical care
  • Worries about meeting an attorney face-to-face during a time of social distancing
  • Concerns that you won’t be able to reach people at a doctor’s office, law firm, or insurance company when you need help or have questions about your claim
  • The general stress and challenges of life in a pandemic, such as trying to juggle working remotely and watching the kids while schools and daycares are closed and the financial stress of being out of work

Every one of your concerns is valid. Fortunately, putting off your claim is not the only way you can avoid the risks.

How Can I Stay Safe While Pursuing a Claim?

Precautions You Can Take to Get Medical Care Safely During COVID-19

After an injury, regaining your health needs to be your number-one priority. But that’s easier said than done when an infectious disease has closed a lot of non-urgent care facilities and made going out in public at all a health risk.

To help our patients get the care they need without putting their safety at risk, our law firm is working with a network of doctors across the state that are open and taking precautions to safely and effectively treat patients even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the ways doctors’ offices are keeping patients safe while continuing to provide care include:

  • Screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms prior to accessing the facility
  • Making telehealth visits available when appropriate, such as for follow-up appointments
  • Implementing policies like required face mask use and virtual waiting rooms to minimize person-to-person contact in the facility
  • Wherever possible, maintaining a 6-foot distance from person to person
  • Cleaning and disinfecting shared surfaces regularly

Having to seek medical attention during the COVID-19 pandemic can be nerve-wracking, but these precautions can allow car accident victims to safely get the care they need, including:

  • Emergency and urgent medical care
  • Diagnostic imaging tests
  • Physical examinations by generalist and specialist providers
  • Physical therapy
  • Interventional procedures and surgeries

Not every provider is open during the pandemic. If you need help finding a doctor who is able to see you, please reach out. We’ll be happy to help.

How to Safely Retain an Attorney During the Coronavirus Outbreak

There are some aspects of seeking medical care that simply can’t be done virtually. That’s not the case with acquiring legal representation. To make sure every accident victim can get help without putting themselves at risk, our law firm has developed a completely remote intake process.

Here’s how it works:

  • REMOTE CONSULTATION: You will speak to someone at our firm about your case, either by phone, email, or another method of communication. We’ve taken our free consultations virtual, so you can still confidentially discuss the details of your claim and ask any questions you may have, without the risks of going out in public where you might be exposed to the coronavirus.
  • ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES: If you have a case that we feel we can help you with, and you are ready to move forward, we will send you documents to sign electronically. You don’t need to come into the office, you don’t need a printer, and you don’t need to mail anything by post. All you need to do is open the file on your computer or device and add your electronic signature.
  • ONGOING ASSISTANCE: If you have questions or encounter technical difficulties while you’re reviewing the documents, let us know. We’re here to help.

Our remote intake process is efficient, convenient, and secure. We have offered our clients the option of signing documents electronically for years – knowing that some of them are too injured to drive or don’t have a vehicle due to the crash – so it’s not some new, unknown process full of glitches to be worked out.

You may think that, if you don’t already have an attorney, now isn’t a good time to look for one. Meeting an attorney in an office full of strangers seems risky in an age of social distancing, and not all law firms are currently open for business. Many attorneys’ offices have, in fact, shut their doors and even laid off their staff, at least until the widespread shutdowns end.

But the truth is, getting the legal help you need can’t wait. We want you to know that, pandemic or no pandemic, we are here for you. We’re ready to help. And we’re taking every effort to eliminate – not just reduce, but completely eliminate – the risk COVID-19 presents when you’re looking for an attorney.

It’s easier and safer than you think to initiate a case and get our law firm working on your behalf immediately.

Why Should I Take Action Now, During COVID-19?

Maybe you’ve been thinking that you’ll just wait until after the whole coronavirus mess is over to take action regarding your car accident claim. On the surface, this measured approach may sound logical – but the reality is that waiting can undermine the success of your claim and reduce your ability to get better.

Just How Long Would You Be Waiting for COVID-19 to End?

None of us know for how long the coronavirus outbreak will continue to impact our lives. Already, months have passed since the spread of the illness on American soil was first documented. Even as more and more states are working toward reopening, what we’re looking at isn’t so much getting “back to normal” as it is forging ahead in the “new corona normal.”

New spikes in cases are likely as stay-at-home and social-distancing measures ease up. An entire second wave of the coronavirus could be in our future – if not right away, then as flu season approaches.

If you decide to wait out COVID-19 before moving forward with your auto accident claim, you could be waiting indefinitely – for months or even years. And that’s not an option.

3 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Delay Your Car Accident Claim Due to COVID-19

Here are a few of the reasons why you don’t want to wait to move forward with your car accident claim:

1| You need medical care to get better.

You wouldn’t be pursuing a car accident claim in the first place if you weren’t hurt. It’s understandable that patients are putting off regular checkups and elective procedures right now, but an injury that is really interfering with your life, because of the pain itself or a loss of function, isn’t something that can wait. If you don’t see a doctor promptly, you’re not making those crucial early steps toward recovery. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may even be allowing it to get worse.

2| Your legal rights won’t last forever.

Many car accident victims don’t realize that there’s an expiration date on their legal rights. They know that they have the right to pursue a claim, but what they don’t know is that waiting too long could lose them that right. In most situations, you have two years after the date of the car wreck to file a lawsuit. It’s important that you realize you don’t have two years to find a lawyer.

By the time that two-year anniversary rolls around, you must have already found an attorney. And that attorney must have already spent time investigating the accident, gathered all evidence needed to support your case, notified the insurance company of the claim, began working toward negotiating a settlement, and completed the documentation needed to file the lawsuit.

Because there’s so much involved in pursuing a lawsuit, if you wait until that two-year statute is nearly up, you could run out of time.

Complicating matters even further, not every accident situation has a two-year statute of limitations. If the driver who caused the crash was operating a vehicle owned by a government entity, for example, you may have a much shorter amount of time to officially give notice of your intention to pursue a claim. Instead of two years, you may have to act in as little time as three months.

It’s very likely that you could end up waiting so long for the coronavirus crisis to pass that, by the time it does, you are running out of time to pursue your claim.

3| The insurance company could use the delay against you. 

Even if waiting doesn’t push your claim too close to the statute of limitations deadline, it could undermine it in other ways. The insurance companies that pay out car accident settlement claims aren’t eager to give away the money they see as “theirs,” even though the reason their policyholders paid these premiums in the first place was to have coverage.

Over our decades of legal practice, we’ve seen insurers use some pretty inexcusable excuses to try to get out of paying what they owe a claimant. Making the case that a car accident victim wasn’t really injured because they didn’t get medical care right away is one of their most common arguments.

Now imagine how well you would be playing right into their hands if you decide not to see a doctor for weeks, even months, because of COVID-19.

As much as you may want to think that no reasonable person would fault you for waiting to get medical care with a global pandemic in effect, that may not be true when it comes to the insurance company.

Remember, it’s in the insurer’s best interests to avoid paying your claim. The insurance adjuster’s goal is exactly the opposite of yours. Don’t give the insurance company any additional ammunition to use against you.

3 COVID-19 Car Accident Claim Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

1| Myth: You Don’t Have Time to Look for a Car Accident Lawyer

We know life is tough right now – probably tougher than ever before. You’re in pain, you’re worried about the future and about the coronavirus, and you may be juggling more roles than ever before – worker, parent, homeschool teacher, and so much more.

Many accident victims, especially right now, are “too busy” to look for a lawyer. You’re in survival mode, so trying to research your options and taking the time to speak with an attorney and sign documents seems so impossible. But, believe it or not, now is the best time to speak with a lawyer. Once you talk to us, we may be able to lift some of the weight off of your shoulders and make it easier for you to manage the stresses posed by this extraordinary time.

2| Myth: Nothing Will Get Done on Your Case Right Now, Anyway

With the pandemic derailing normal business operations by necessitating remote work and, in some cases, limited or altered work schedules, you may think that you won’t be able to get in touch with the key players involved in an auto accident claim.

Although we aren’t holding in-person meetings right now, we remain fully committed to our clients. We’re still investigating claims, building case files, writing demand letters, negotiating with insurance companies, filing legal documents, and so much more.

It’s true that reaching certain medical offices and insurance personnel can be a more difficult feat at the moment, but that’s our job, not a worry you need to have. We’ll handle this. You just focus on getting better.

3| Myth: You Can’t Afford to Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident Right Now

The impact of COVID-19 on the economy has been devastating. Whether you’re among the tens of millions of Americans who were laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, you are out of work on disability because of your injury, or you’re simply – and understandably – worried about your financial future, you don’t want to take on a big expense right now.

You should know that hiring a car accident attorney won’t cost you anything upfront. Most lawyers handle car accident claims on a contingency basis, or a “no-win, no-fee” basis, so you’ll pay nothing unless your lawyer successfully gets money for you. If you do win, what you owe is only a fraction of what your attorney recovered for you – no outrageous hourly fees or anything like that.

You can afford to hire a lawyer. What you can’t afford is to never get the compensation you deserve for an accident.

For your physical rehabilitation and your financial recovery, the weeks and months after a car accident are critical. In many ways, managing COVID-19 remains a waiting game. But waiting to address your car accident injuries is a big mistake that could sabotage your chance at being made physically and financially whole. Call us today for your free remote phone consultation.