Making a Personal Injury Claim during COVID
Many things have changed during the COVID pandemic, from how we cope with our everyday lives to how our favourite TV shows are organised. But what if we suffer from a personal injury and need to make a Personal Injury Claim? Can you still go ahead with it, or does it have to wait until the crisis is over?
The answer, at the time of writing, is yes, but the experience may be slightly different at this time.
Are the courts still functioning?
In general, the courts have adapted well to the crisis. Even before there was any sign of the pandemic, the idea of moving some court proceedings online had been considered, so the system was not entirely unprepared for the lockdown.
Court proceedings have generally been going ahead virtually, either online or by telephone. This has overall been a success, showing that court sessions are possible without any physical presence.
However, more claims than ever are being made, due to extra cases resulting from the complications of the pandemic. This especially applies to people who have been ill with COVID and are making Medical Negligence claims, but there are also cases of workers claiming for Personal Injury against organisations they feel have failed to safeguard them.
The combination of increased claims due to the pandemic and delays in the process has resulted in a backlog of claims building up. This does not mean you should not make your claim, but it can make the process slower.
What about medical examinations?
If you are claiming for Personal Injury, you will normally require an expert medical report or other evaluations of your condition. These may relate, for example, to the level of disability you have been left with, or they may involve a more general assessment of your condition and how it affects you.
This normally involves a face-to-face examination, as well as a review of your medical notes, which can be problematic during this current crisis. In many cases, however, it has proved possible to have a virtual examination, either by telephone or by a video call.
In these cases, the expert will ask you questions about your experiences and your abilities. For example, if one of the issues is that you are suffering mobility problems, they may ask you how far you can walk without suffering pain. You may have had a virtual appointment with your G.P. during the lockdown, and the general principle is the same.
In some cases, however, it will be essential for the expert to examine you directly, and this should be possible. Both G.P. surgeries and hospitals have continued to operate during the lockdown, and all medical experts will have developed ways of conducting examinations safely. If it is imperative that you have a face-to-face examination with an expert, this will normally be possible.
Should you make a Personal Injury claim?
As we have seen, the courts are still functioning, though more slowly, and you should not have a problem getting expert reports. Yes, there are backlogs, but these will carry on after the crisis has ended, as the courts work through the outstanding cases. This means that the earlier you put your claim in, the sooner it is likely to be heard.
It is important to remember that there are time limits, though, on making a personal injury claim. Generally, the time limit is 3 years from the date of accident or injury. If the injured person is a minor (a child under the age of 18), then the time limit of 3 years does not start until that child reaches the age of eighteen years.
This means that any delay in making your claim could contribute to you running out of time. Because of this and the backlogs worsening, we recommend that you start your Personal Injury Claim as soon as possible.
What to do in the meantime about my Personal Injury Claim?
Pre-COVID, a Personal Injury Claim can take a long time to settle, and it can be hard managing things like finances through the interim.
There are two possible ways of addressing this situation. One is that we may be able to negotiate an advance payment with the Defendant, giving you enough to help you through these difficult times.
The other approach is to have a virtual meeting between the various parties and agree to a settlement out of court. This has the advantage of avoiding a long, drawn-out process that leaves you struggling until it is finished. Your solicitor should, of course, advise you on whether or not the settlement is possible.
What about Osborne Morris & Morgan?
Although we have had to adapt to slightly different methods, we have remained available to our clients throughout the COVID crisis. Currently, most of our consultations with clients, are conducted at a distance, either by phone or by video conferencing. This approach has also made up the bulk of our work with the courts.
This means that we are not only fully open to support you in making a Personal Injury Claim (or for any of our other services) but we are also keeping you as safe as possible.
If you think you may have a Personal Injury claim, please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we can give you the right support – even in this pandemic.