COVID-19 has challenged just about every industry and system of government with new barriers. Car accident injury claims are no exception. As if survivors of car accidents in Seattle weren’t dealing with enough already, COVID-19 is further complicating their claims and making it harder to obtain fair compensation.
Jason Epstein is a Seattle car accident attorney at Premier Law Group. He believes in empowering car accident survivors with information to make the best decisions about their legal situations. The author of “Settle Your Own Injury Case” and several other books that he gives away for free, Epstein is a firm believer that under certain circumstances, you don’t need and shouldn’t hire a lawyer.
“It’s still possible to settle your own case, but it’s getting harder,” says Epstein. “Regardless of whether you need an attorney or not, there are a few things that car accident survivors should know about in the wake of COVID-19.”
There are at least five overarching factors that may affect your car accident claim. The first thing to do is understand the new factors at play.
Increased lapses in insurance coverage
The first factor is increased lapses in insurance coverage. It’s no secret that the pandemic has slowed the economy and put financial stress on a rising number of people. Some drivers may discontinue paying their car insurance premiums, which means their insurance company would discontinue coverage.
When an uninsured motorist causes your accident, the motorist may not have sufficient value in their personal assets to provide adequate compensation. “In simpler claims you’re just dealing with property damage,” says Epstein. “If you’re injured, compensation needs to cover medical attention, on-going therapy, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.”
He continues, “You’d have to rely on your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to get properly compensated, and collecting from your own insurance company can be just as challenging as collecting from someone else’s.”
Situations where the at-fault party has filed for bankruptcy may also involve a lapse in insurance coverage, making it harder and more time-consuming to collect.
All these developments add a new layer – or layers – of complexity to your claim.
Increasingly aggressive behavior from insurance companies
Insurance companies aren’t immune to the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
If insurance companies anticipate less profit in the coming months, they’ll attempt various tactics to minimize the compensation they pay out. Knowing that many car accident survivors are in greater need of timely compensation, they may make slower and lower settlement offers. We’ll probably see insurance companies initiate more litigation to protect their bottom line as well. This makes their increasingly aggressive behavior a second factor which may affect your car accident claim.
“You can’t know the value of your claim until you’re done treating,” says Epstein. “You don’t want to find yourself struggling even more with the consequences of your accident in years to come because you accepted an unfair settlement.”
“If a lapse in insurance coverage is affecting your claim or the insurance company wants to litigate,” Epstein says, “these are signs that you may need a Seattle car accident attorney.”
Law firms closing their doors
A third factor that may affect your car accident claim in the wake of COVID-19 involves the attorney or law firm that you hire.
Economists expect to see a lot of businesses close their doors in the coming months, including law firms. It’s a bad sign if your attorney is struggling to deliver service under pandemic conditions. You could be left in a vulnerable position if your law firm folds before your claim resolves.
“If you plan to hire a Seattle car accident attorney,” Epstein advises, “the key here is to look for warning signs and be careful about who you hire.”
Delays in the court system
A fourth factor that may affect your car accident claim is delays in the court system. The courts were shut down for months, which means the system is now back-logged. Most car accident claims don’t go to trial, but they usually involve some dealings with the court.
Obstacles to getting medical attention and therapy
Finally, challenges around seeking medical attention and therapy during the pandemic may affect your car accident claim.
Treatment is important to the value of your claim. If you delay treatment for fear of contracting coronavirus disease, you will also delay your claim. If you’re unable to get medical attention and keep your appointments, it may even lower the value of your claim.
“A service-oriented car accident attorney will minimize potential delays, advise you on how to protect your claim’s value, and manage your expectations,” says Epstein.
Epstein also offers advice around dealing with the challenges of seeking medical attention. “Seek medical attention and keep your appointments by taking precautions like physical distancing, washing your hands, and wearing a mask. Use telemedicine when you have to.”
“If you can’t see your doctor or therapist, you can help your claim by managing your own medical information. Keep a dated journal that documents diagnoses, symptom changes and health fluctuations.”
These are many of the reasons why it’s getting harder for survivors to recover fair compensation without hiring a Seattle car accident attorney.
When it comes to concluding advice Epstein offers, “Do your research, consider the factors at play, and don’t give up when you meet resistance,” Epstein says. “If you need a lawyer, make sure to hire a service-oriented firm with car accident expertise.”