The horrible and awful effects of the Coronavirus and Covid-19 are affecting every part of our daily lives. From the closing of schools, restaurants and just about every type of business throughout Michigan, we are living in an unprecedented time.
First, my heart grieves for all the people throughout Michigan and the world who has had their life cut short by this insidious virus. My thought and condolences go their family, friends and loved ones. I cannot even imagine what they are going through.
And as the amount of confirmed cases increase daily, along with the number of deaths, it appears this is going to a month’s long horror show for Michigan citizens and our nation. Staying home and shelter-in-place are the new code words of the day. We must attempt to flatten the curve to buy enough time for our incredible and heroic doctors and nurses serving on the front lines at Henry Ford Hospital, Beaumont, the Detroit Medical Center, the University of Michigan Medical Center and other Detroit area medical locations to treat victims and save lives.
But what happens to an injured person’s Michigan car accident claim while we fight Covid-19? Do the claim and lawsuits continue? What about the fact many auto crash victims can’t get into see their doctors for much needed physical therapy, doctor visits and surgeries? What happens then?
This article seeks to answer these questions and provide guidance to injury victims and their families here in Michigan.
Detroit Car Accident Claims and Coronavirus:
If you have a pending car accident claim for Michigan no-fault benefits or for pain and suffering, your claim continues. Under the law, car insurance carriers such as State Farm, Allstate and Progressive must continue to pay benefits. These benefits include 85% of lost wages, replacement services, attendant care, prescriptions, the payment of medical bills and other benefits.
The Michigan no-fault law has not been placed “on hold” because of the virus. Insurance carriers still have 30 days to pay benefits that are timely sent to them. So it is important to continue to turn over any paperwork you have over to your attorney. If you have updated medical bills, make sure they have this documentation. If you have updated work loss scripts from a doctor, or new replacement service calendars, again pass this along to your lawyer to he or she can present it to the insurance carrier for prompt payment.
What about medical treatment for my car accident injuries during the Coronavirus pandemic?
The coronavirus has changed everything. Making an appointment and getting into your doctor is very difficult right now, if not impossible. However, just because you are unable to see a doctor like before does not change your case.
Still, it is important you try to get updated disability forms as necessary to ensure your benefits continue to move forward. Many physicians are conducting appointments over the telephone or through the Internet by using apps such as Zoom. This is called telemedicine and it counts just like an in-person appointment.
During this appointment, make sure you tell your doctor about any pain and discomfort you are having. If you still cannot do certain things and can’t work, have the doctor send you an updated list of restrictions and a work loss disability script. This documentation will be needed for your PIP claim and personal injury claim.
Are the Courts Closed During the Coronavirus?
Just about all circuit and district courts are closed for in-person hearings throughout Michigan. Certain judges are hearing some criminal and probate proceedings, but they are few and far between. Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit put a 60 day stay on all civil cases, such as personal injury actions. Case evaluation in many jurisdictions have also been put on hold. There are no jury trials taking place anywhere.
However, on April 7, 2020 the Michigan Supreme Court did just issue Order No. 2020-6. This order authorizes judicial officers to conduct proceedings remotely using “two-way interactive videoconferencing technology or other remote participation tools”. This can occur so long as the procedure is consistent with a party’s Constitutional right and the “procedure must enable confidential communication between a party and the party’s counsel.”
The Court is encouraging lawyers and courts to hear and rule on basic motions through a telephone or videoconference app like Zoom. It will also help move some cases along. Our law firm has been conducting depositions and speaking with clients using various apps throughout the quarantine here in Michigan. However, it is going to be awhile before things return to normal for most court houses.
Will My Car Accident Case Take Longer Because of the Coronavirus?
This is a tough question to answer because we don’t yet know how the virus will play out. If we continue to “flatten the curve” and stay extra vigilant, and if the federal and state governments do a better job of testing people, then the sooner we will return as close to a “normal” life as possible. If this happens, then the sooner you can see your doctor, restart physical therapy and continue with other medical treatment. This will allow us to more quickly move your case along.
It will also allow the courts to reopen, which obviously can allow us to resolve your case.
However, if adequate testing of Covid-19 does not occur, if a reasonable anti-viral treatment protocol is not formulated to treat patients, or the virus begins to spike again once the quarantine ends, then things may take longer. Let’s all hope none of this happens.
I can tell you that our team of dedicated lawyers and legal professionals are working tirelessly to win your case. In the last few weeks during the quarantine, we have resolved lots of cases for our clients through facilitation or through discussions with counsel for the auto insurance company. We are working remotely but working hard.
If you have any questions, please contact our office at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). The phone call is free and we don’t charge anything unless we win your car accident case.
Our team has been amazing. We are all working remotely, we are all in constant contact with each other through different apps, through our email system. We have a great virtual private network that we’re using. We can all share documents, it’s like we’re in the office. I mean I have an IP phone right here it’s the same phone that I use in the office. Our receptionist who is at home has an IP phone that she uses, that’s the same phone that she has any office. I mean literally, it’s like you would not know that we’re not in the office. In fact, I’ve had a couple of people ask me, “Are you at work?”
I’m like, “No, no I am not.” A couple of clients have asked me that in the last couple of days. So it’s definitely a little different though. I’d rather be in the office, I’d rather be around my coworkers and all the people that I enjoy working with. And I’d also rather been able to see my clients and meet them face to face and see what’s going on with them. Personally, we just can’t do that right now, everything’s got to be done over the phone or through email. But we’ve been working hard, the firm’s been doing phenomenal job and we’ve been helping our clients, we’ve been resolving cases and moving forward.