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Breakdown: COVID-19, Personal Injury Law, and the Hudson Valley

COVID-19 has affected every aspect of daily life for people in the Hudson Valley, and personal injury law is no exception. Today, we’re going to go over some of the ways it affects existing personal injury cases and potential new unrelated cases, as well as the prospect of a surge of coronavirus lawsuits in the future.

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another party, and you’re located in the Hudson Valley, give us a call today at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free remote consultation. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers have decades of experience pushing back against insurance companies to get the best possible result for our clients.

The effect on existing Hudson Valley personal injury cases

If you already have a case in progress, you may have concerns about what COVID-19 will do to the process. The State of New York Unified Court system indefinitely postponed all nonessential court functions on March 15. Only emergency hearings regarding matters like orders of protection, violent crime, neglect, abuse, child protection and arraignments are being convened.

If you have a pending case, that means that the pressure of going to trial is gone, as is the leverage to use against insurance companies to make them offer compensation to settle your lawsuit, at least in the near future. The added uncertainty is not pleasant for plaintiffs who are hoping for a speedy resolution to paying off massive medical bills and offset lost income.

However, thorough and aggressive discovery can still be conducted while courts are closed. Our firm can still remotely gather facts, submit documents and other discovery materials, and put forth motions for relief and extensions. Through arbitration and mediation, we can still conduct negotiations with defendants and their insurance companies, who know that the courts won’t be closed forever. While the risk to insurance companies of going to trial is delayed, our firm can still keep pressure on and advise our clients of their options.

Another wrinkle for many existing personal injury cases is the fact that the firm must already have the infrastructure in place to work remotely and securely. Our team already has the digital and paperless capabilities to not miss a beat while representing you.

The effect on potential new Hudson Valley personal injury cases

Something that we encounter quite a bit is plaintiffs who have been injured and are waiting “to see how bad it really is.” This is where statutes of limitations come into play; sometimes plaintiffs wait years to see how much money an injury costs them before they seek legal counsel, and often times it’s too late for them to recover their full damages.

Now that COVID-19 has disrupted courts, the future status of statutes of limitations is murky. For now, we know that via Executive Order 202.8, NYS statutes of limitations that would’ve expired on March 21 have been extended through April 19 for “any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding.”

If you’re one of those people that is waiting to see the extent of your damages or injuries before consulting an attorney, do not delay: the sooner you schedule a consultation and talk to an attorney, the sooner you can learn about your legal options and potential timelines to recover the full extent of your damages.

The potential of future COVID-19-related personal injury lawsuits in the Hudson Valley

Generally, in order to prove one party’s liability for causing an injury to another, there are four requirements:

  1. The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff
  2. The defendant breached that duty
  3. The breach of duty directly caused harm to the plaintiff
  4. The harm resulted in damages to the plaintiff

Laws requiring the operation of only essential businesses, and guidance and laws requiring people to quarantine themselves if they test positive for COVID-19, may form the basis of owing a duty to other people to not transmit the virus to them.

However, it will likely be difficult to prove that someone caught the virus in any particular way, since it’s possible for it to spread through the air and surfaces, even from asymptomatic carriers. It’s also uncertain if insurance carriers and homeowners’ insurance policies will cover claims related to COVID-19 negligence.

What many legal experts are anticipating is that coronavirus lawsuits may be more likely in residential settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities, or against cruise ship operators who failed to act quickly and effectively enough to protect their residents or customers from the spread of the virus. The key condition is that the plaintiffs in such actions won’t have to prove how they specifically contracted the virus, just that they most likely contracted it while in the business setting due to the business’ negligence in setting and following protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

It doesn’t hurt to get a legal opinion

If you believe that you’ve sustained an injury because of another party’s negligence, don’t hesitate: give us a call at 845-600-0000 and find out what your legal options are, for free.