The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has left almost no aspect of life unaffected. The courts are no exception. COVID-19 has forced significant changes in how courtrooms in New Jersey operate. Luckily, many personal injury attorneys are flexible and have managed to continue taking and negotiating claims during the pandemic, often through the use of virtual technology. How the virus might affect your claim will depend on many factors unique to your case.
First, find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the personal injury law firm you wish to use to represent you during your claim. This will largely depend on where you live. Many personal injury law firms in the US are managing to remain open without interruption by switching to 100% telecommunications. Your lawyer may be able to continue with your personal injury claim as usual, helping you reach a resolution despite COVID-19 changes and restrictions. The only major changes may be in how you communicate with your lawyer. With no in-person meetings, you may communicate via phone, email, text or videoconferencing instead. A phone call to your desired law firm can explain to you how it is handling claims while protecting its clients during COVID-19.
One of the biggest changes you will see is the transition from in-person court visits to virtual. The most recent New Jersey Courts COVID-19 update states that no in-person proceedings will occur in the Municipal, Superior and Tax Courts until further notice. Instead, these courts will handle as many matters as possible via videoconference or telephone. Due to the coronavirus, you cannot file your personal injury claim in person in the county court as you normally would. Find out if your county’s small claims court accepts electronic submissions or mail-ins by drop-box instead.
If the courts schedule a hearing in New Jersey, the hearing will be virtual. However, the New Jersey Courts have announced that it is suspending all new civil jury trials until further notice. If your personal injury claim requires a trial by jury, therefore, you will have to wait until the country lifts its social distancing guidelines. These guidelines currently ask people not to come within six feet of people they are not isolating with. The guidelines also state to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Since jury trials require 12 jurors, they have been temporarily suspended throughout the country.
The courts have to do things much differently than usual to accommodate concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. They understand that claimants’ lives have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the New Jersey Courts added provisions extending the deadlines for civil claims. The Supreme Court of New Jersey’s omnibus order states that all medical and professional malpractice cases now have extended deadlines for filing from March 16 to April 26, 2020. All statutes of limitations on claims have been tolled for this six weeks, meaning you may have an extra six weeks to file.
It is understandable if you are eager to resolve your claim. COVID-19 might have put your family in even worse financial straits than before. If you wish to settle your personal injury claim as soon as possible, work with an injury attorney to try to accomplish virtual mediation with the defendant. You and the defendant may be able to reach a satisfactory and fair settlement agreement through virtual meetings, without the need for a trial.
Speak to one of our Monmouth County personal injury lawyers today about all the changes COVID-19 might make to your personal injury claim. An experienced injury lawyer can help you achieve full compensation if it is possible to continue with your case virtually during this time. A lawyer can also protect you from insurance companies that may be taking advantage of the pandemic to lowball claimants who are desperate to settle.