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COVID-19 and Personal Injury Claims

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people in Florida as of September 22, 2020, and that number continues to grow. With more than 685,000 cases, Florida has the third-highest number of cases in the United States. Miami-Dade County is by far the most affected county in Florida with more than 167,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths so far. Though Florida is currently bringing its caseloads down, the COVID-19 crisis will have lasting impacts.

Types of COVID-19 Personal Injury Claims

Common types of personal injury claims associated with COVID-19 include: nursing home negligence, cruise ship liability, and medical malpractice. These claim types can be tricky. For example, if a nursing home resident becomes seriously ill or dies from COVID-19, a personal injury or wrongful death case would have to establish that the nursing home had a duty to provide reasonable care, the nursing home breached that duty, and that breach of duty caused harm. The claimant needs to prove that the nursing home breached their duty by exposing a resident to an unreasonable risk, such as allowing untested or unmonitored/unprotected staff or others into the facility or otherwise exposed a vulnerable person.

Likewise, the Federal CARES Act limits liability for volunteer health care professionals who provide services during the public health emergency. A formal request asking for additional liability protection for health care professionals has been submitted to Florida Governor DeSantis.

Personal injuries from car, pedestrian, and bike accidents are on the rise due to the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders have changed behaviors. For example, when states initially began closing down, freeways emptied. With no more congestion and wide open spaces, the few drivers on the road tended to increase their driving speeds. While the number of car crashes went down, the ones that did occur tended to involve higher speeds and resulted in more devastating injuries. People have begun venturing out more since the original shutdown, but their driving skills may have suffered from lack of practice, which can also contribute to car accidents.

Meanwhile, schools, amusement parks, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and virtually everything else shut down. Walking, hiking, and bike riding grew in popularity as they were among the few activities allowed. With more pedestrians and bike riders on the roadway, coupled with high speed and out-of-practice drivers, we have unfortunately seen an increase in devastating pedestrian and bicycle injuries at our Florida personal injury law firm.

Catastrophic personal injuries from car crashes, pedestrian impacts, and bike crashes include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Severe burns
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Though victims of these incidents may not actually come down with a case of COVID-19, the pandemic has been a contributing factor.

What to Expect with COVID-19 Personal Injury Claims

Regardless of the type of personal injury, the response to the pandemic in the form of stay-at-home orders and shutdowns has affected the personal injury claims process and led to a backlog of court cases.

  • Insurance Companies Have Been Impacted — Like other businesses, many insurance company workers are now working remotely, which could lead to a slower-than-normal response. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicates matters with its economic impacts.
  • Accident Victims May Be Desperate — There’s a concern that some victims may be tempted to accept lower-than-expected settlements because they’ve been out of work for an extended period and desperate for cash.
  • The At-Fault Party May Be Strapped for Cash — Now that the extra $600 in unemployment benefits has expired, unemployed workers are facing hard decisions as to which bills they’re able to pay. What if the other driver, for example, lacks insurance and has filed for bankruptcy? If you had the foresight to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you’d have to file a claim against your own insurance company. This turns your insurance company into an adversary that will likely contest your claim or offer a lower settlement than you deserve in an effort to keep their losses low.
  • You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Now More Than Ever — If you or a loved one has been seriously injured during the coronavirus pandemic, an experienced, board-certified personal injury trial lawyer is more important than ever. The last thing you want to do is settle for less than you’re entitled to. Catastrophic injuries are long-term injuries with damages that could last a lifetime. It’s not just the medical bills you’ll need to recover but potentially loss of income, loss of earning potential for decades, pain and suffering, physical therapy, future surgeries, and other economic and non-economic damages.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, rather than meeting with a personal injury lawyer in person, you may meet in a Zoom or other video call, or be asked to comply with physical distancing and face mask recommendations. Though the experience may be virtual or physically distanced, our work on your behalf remains the same. From in-depth investigations and expert analysis to holding all parties accountable and taking cases to trial if necessary, Leighton Law works aggressively to ensure your personal injury claim is handled appropriately and expeditiously despite the challenges of COVID-19. We work on contingency, so there are no upfront out-of-pocket costs to worry about. Our experienced personal injury trial lawyers have obtained some of the largest verdicts and settlements in Florida. We never forget that personal injury is, and always remains, very personal to us and our clients. Learn more about how we can help you by contacting us now to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.

Article by:

John Leighton

A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite

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