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COVID-19 is Redefining Personal Injury Claims: Here’s What You Should Clarify with Your Lawyer

The global coronavirus outbreak has changed a lot of things in our daily lives. While every nation responded to the pandemic to the best of its ability, so much has changed that we refer to daily life as the “new normal.”

Personal injury claims aren’t exempt from these changes. In fact, people are quickly learning how their personal injury case is being affected by COVID-19. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding personal injury claims during the pandemic.

Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Even if I’m Working at Home?

Compensation coverage for off-site injuries isn’t customary. However, since the stay-at-home and remote working orders went into effect, it’s turned into a novel concept. As with most legal questions, your lawyer might give you a “yes” or “no” answer, depending on the facts of your case.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which is why it’s also called personal injury protection (PIP). That means your injuries are compensable. Your medical expenses are covered under your company’s insurance, regardless of whether it’s your negligence or someone else’s negligence. That is, granted you’re injured in the “course and scope of employment.”

These are factors that prove that an injury is work-related:

  • The employer should benefit from an employee’s action when the injury happened.

  • The employer required the employee to commit the injury-causing action or activity.

  • The employer allowed for remote working or off-site activity in advance.

More importantly, home-based workers, who didn’t contract coronavirus but were injured at home while working will have the burden of proving a direct link between their injury and the nature of their employment.

Let’s say you’re a telecommuter who took a break from work to use the bathroom at midnight. During your break, you slipped and injured yourself. You will need to justify that your injury is work-related. How? There are few hard and fast rules for this. Speaking with your employer and seeking legal advice are steps in the right direction.

Don’t expect the first lawyer you contact to answer your call immediately though. Courts are facing a surge in questions related to occupational disease and COVID-19. Lawmakers’ hands are full with state and federal legislations pending. Remember, the “new normal” is new territory for everyone.

For example, New York’s Governor Cuomo has recently announced that pending state and federal legislations may precipitate more changes to New York’s workers’ compensation system. It appears to be a good thing, but it has yet to be fully defined.

One of the best ways to keep up to date with these changes is to contact reputable personal Injury attorneys in New York. They will be able to offer guidance and updates regarding compensation and other legal issues related to the ongoing pandemic.

How will COVID-19 Complicate my Personal Injury Case?

Courtroom schedules are overloaded. This inevitably slows down the timeline for personal injury claims. Legal professionals would generally advise all of their clients to act quickly after an accident and get their claims moving. Otherwise, their claims would be placed on the waiting list for months, or, worse, a year.

Second, insurance companies may take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. Since many cash-strapped accident victims want to settle a case right away, insurers might offer an unreasonably low settlement – and it might not cover the victim’s entire losses.

Another thing to keep in mind is the hit the economy is taking due to the pandemic. It’s possible that insurance companies will be stricter moving forward, lowering insurance claims to secure their bottom line. If this scenario plays out, personal injury victims might have to go to trial rather than settle outside of court.

Lastly, expect compensations to be more complicated than usual. If a defendant isn’t insured, or files for bankruptcy, it could be impossible for plaintiffs to collect settlements or judgement awards. Receiving compensation in full will get increasingly difficult – more on this in a minute.

What Happens if I Lose my Coverage?

Drivers know that failing to make their monthly insurance payments will result in the loss of coverage. Being unable to pay an insurance premium during this time is understandable but leads to several complications. If you’ve lost your coverage and an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you, you won’t be able to recover any compensation from that driver’s personal assets.

Your only remaining option is to claim benefits through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy with your insurance provider. Unfortunately, your insurer here is now an opposing party and will definitely contest claims. You would want to seek legal advice in this case.

Takeaway

The world is constantly changing and adapting to the ongoing global pandemic. If you’ve been injured during covid-19, keep up to date with local, state, and federal legislations. Reach out to qualified workman comp lawyers who can help guide you through this difficult time. Expect your personal injury claim to be delayed and more complicated than usual. Take care of yourself and be persistent.

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