Federal and state courts throughout most of the country have implemented new measures as a result of the coronavirus. From restricting who can enter court buildings to delaying jury trials, like most businesses in the U.S., the courts are essentially shut down.
For the first time in more than 100 years, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was postponing upcoming oral arguments. For historical reference, the last time it took similar measures was in 1918 in response to the Spanish flu epidemic. Legal experts are warning the delays caused by the coronavirus could create an overwhelming backlog of cases and even have legal ramifications, especially for defendants who are guaranteed a speedy and fair trial under the Constitution.
For those in the middle of a personal injury case, the delay can be equally as devasting. Many plaintiffs who had gone back to work have since lost their jobs; others, who were still unable to work due to their injuries, face a market with skyrocketing unemployment rates and few available jobs. All of this, of course, is happening as bills and other daily living expenses continue to mount.
Many plaintiffs are depending on the resolution of their personal injury claim to do basic things, like feed their families and pay their rent or mortgage. If the rent or mortgage is going to be late, I recommend contacting the landlord or mortgage company directly to explain the situation. It’s worth asking for a few months of leeway, especially given the pandemic. And, fortunately, there are short-term foreclosure and eviction moratoriums in place that will protect most for the time being, but communication is still key. Reserve money for food and other basic utilities and look into local city services, like food pantries, if you come up short. Despite the shutdown, these services are still in operation.
For plaintiffs, the result of the coronavirus-induced court closures is that their cases cannot proceed to trial, and therefore cannot move as quickly towards a resolution. This extends what can already be a lengthy, drawn-out process, especially if well-lawyered insurance companies are on the other end of the case. Using the coronavirus to their advantage, insurance companies will be able to come out on the other end in a better position.
For plaintiffs, there are alternative courses of action that can be taken.
Personal Injury Plaintiffs: Here Are Steps You Can Take to Combat the Coronavirus’s Impact on Your Case
Coronavirus or not, as a U.S. citizen, you are owed the basic right of access to a fair – and speedy – trial. In a Times article, Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, a criminal justice researcher and Brown University sociology professor said, “The pandemic is exerting a real influence on people’s basic rights and dignity.”
To fight back, here is what you can do:
- Not all law firms are equipped with the infrastructure and resources to continue serving their clients during pandemics or other shutdowns. In these situations, the most prepared personal injury lawyers have the technology and digital infrastructure, like Cherokee Funding, to continue supporting you despite the shutdown. Step one: Find out if your law firm is prepared to handle your case remotely.
- Step two: Ensure the discovery process of your case is still continuing. Law firms that have basic technologies in place, like remote access, can continue to submit and exchange discovery materials, communicate with insurance adjusters and send demand letters. Many states, like Georgia, have court systems with e-filing capabilities, and they are continuing to accept paperwork during the coronavirus shutdown. Make sure your legal representation is continuing to push your case towards resolution, but also understand that they will be limited depending on the responsiveness, or lack thereof, of insurance companies and the courts.
- Depositions are also a big part of a personal injury case. If your legal counsel has adopted technology, like video conferencing, depositions can be conducted remotely while adhering to state and federal social distancing recommendations. Step three: Check on the status of your depositions.
- For larger cases, online mediation is an excellent opportunity to resolve your case, so long as it is far enough along. Step four: Find out how your attorney is classifying your case, and what other options, like online mediation, there might be.
Funding Services For Plaintiffs
At Cherokee Funding, we know it’s not easy to wait for your case to settle and it’s even more difficult when you’ve been injured in an accident and bills are piling up. All of this, of course, is compounded by the coronavirus crisis happening right now.
But you do have options, including legal funding services through Cherokee Funding. In fact, we have helped over 50,000 plaintiffs, and over 30,000 medical bills have been paid by Cherokee Funding on behalf of plaintiffs.
Here are the funding services we provide to plaintiffs:
Pre-Settlement Cash Advances
With a lawsuit cash advance, also called pre-settlement funding, Cherokee Funding provides you with a cash advance before your case is settled. Given the coronavirus pandemic, this will likely be the service you need most right now. You can use cash advances to pay for necessary expenses while you wait for the insurance companies to settle and/or for the courts to reopen, no matter how long that may take. While we have lowered fees and other rates to help in this dire situation, these funds will ultimately come out of your final settlement, so make sure to request as little as you need to get by in order to preserve as much for you at settlement.
Post-Settlement Cash Advances
With post-settlement cash advances, Cherokee Funding provides you with a cash advance after your case is settled and while you are waiting for the settlement funds to be paid. Where payments are likely to be delayed given the shutdown, this is another service you might need right now. Cash advances can be spent any way you see fit and are a great way to pay your immediate bills while you wait for the cash from your settlement to arrive. In addition to being beneficial, this service is extremely inexpensive.
Medical Treatment Funding
If you were injured and you are currently receiving medical treatment, do not stop. You do not want to cause an interruption in treatment if you can avoid it. You can, however, ask us about providers that are continuing to perform essential medical services during this time, if you need it. If, on the other hand, your accident occurred recently and you need to begin treatment and you are uninsured or underinsured, please reach out. Cherokee Funding’s Medical Treatment Program pays for your medical treatment so you can take care of yourself while waiting for your attorney to work your case. In addition to a strong attorney network, we also have a large network of healthcare providers, including orthopedists, diagnostic centers, pain management specialists, physical therapists, hospitals and surgical centers, that we can share with you as you go to choose a provider.
Contact Us: We Are Working During the Coronavirus
My message to all plaintiffs who are feeling especially uncertain during these unchartered times is this:
- Your health is the most important thing, so first and foremost, stay safe and please follow the COVID-19 guidelines to protect yourself (CDC).
- Secondly, we are here for you, and we can help you bridge this gap. Cherokee Funding is working completely remotely during this time, and we can help you with any funding needs you have. Get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us at 855-394-2274. Our representatives are standing by.