How COVID-19 Affected Personal Injury Laws and Claims
COVID-19 did not only take a heavy toll on public health and health, but its adverse effect was also felt in the business sector. Apart from the tourism, hospitality, and food industry that were greatly impacted by the economic decline and recession caused by the pandemic, the law industry, and personal injury claims have also changed to cope with it.
Most personal injury claims are based on car accidents, which experienced a decline due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, there has been an increase in business, medical, and employment-related personal injury claims. For this reason, many are seeking legal aid in hopes of claiming compensation.
Personal Injury Law
Personal Injury Law refers to the legal defenses and remedies for civil cases brought about by negligence and other unlawful acts. In contrast to filing criminal cases, the cases filed and claimed in personal injury do not need a government prosecutor's intervention for claiming damages. Rather, the cases and claims include a plaintiff that seeks compensation for damages.
Most personal injury claims and cases are grounded on negligence. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care to avoid any loss or injury to other people and their property. Negligence can occur when you do something that is forbidden to do or not do something that is required for you to do.
Examples of negligence are car accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites (when the dogs have no leashes), and failure to follow health protocols that resulted in damages. During this pandemic, the most common personal injury claims are for medical malpractice, insurance coverage, loss of employment, and business-related damages.
Negligence is established if there is a reasonable standard that must be followed. The reasonable standard will depend on the situation. Something reasonable in one instance may not be reasonable in another.
With the pandemic happening, there has been a change of what reasonable standard means. For example, the standard for sanitation has become more strict. There is also the protection of consumers by business owners. Furthermore, employers must rethink how they deal with their employees during this pandemic.
If a patient has contracted the virus after getting a treatment at a hospital, the patient may file a personal injury claim against the hospital for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice cases have a different standard of care than other personal injury claims.
However, some states already enacted rules and laws to make medical practitioners who handle COVID-19 cases be immune from personal injury claims. In New York, the Governor already signed an Executive Order granting immunity to healthcare providers who treat patients with COVID-19.
Similarly, New Jersey granted medical malpractice immunity to COVID-19 medical practitioners. The law provides civil and criminal immunity for nurses, physicians, and other medical practitioners treating COVID-19 patients. The law was retroactive last March 9, 2020.
The same is true for Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida. However, there is still a debate in California whether to grant medical malpractice immunity or not. The people of California think that the state should not make the pandemic an excuse to lower medical practice standards.
Medical Insurance Coverage
The pandemic has thrown worries and inquiries to insurers on whether COVID-19 is covered by insurance or not. The inquiries mainly tackle health, non-life, and life coverage. Insurance coverage inquiries also include business insurance coverage.
The most basic issue for health insurance is whether rapid testing is included in health insurance coverage. Insurance coverage can vary per state and country. In most countries, rapid testing is free. However, the cost of this testing is substantial in America. The adjustment now comes to insurers whether rapid testing and healthcare maintenance is covered by health insurance.
The most difficult personal injury claim is on life insurance. The insurers still have to see the mortality rate and its impact on the insurance market. Insurers might have to adjust the policy coverage due to the increase in mortality rate affected by the pandemic. This case might result in insolvency issues, which can make claims more difficult to get.
Employment injury and loss of employment are the main causes of personal injury claims related to employment. Many become unemployed due to the impact of the pandemic on businesses. This is where personal injury lawyers come in. Lawyers have to make sure that the employees understand and receive severance pay, non-compete clauses, and other employment-related claims.
In New Jersey, when an alleged work-related injury is due to COVID-19, the employee is entitled to compensation if proven that the disease arose from employment. The employee can file for damages or worker’s compensation claims.
Georgia has not yet amended the law on personal injury claims related to COVID-19. The Worker’s Compensation Law provides that the employee must prove that their medical issues arose from their employment activities.
However, proving that you contracted COVID-19 due to your employment can also be difficult. Thus, you will need a lawyer to help with your claim. It’s best to hire a lawyer near you. For example, if you have a case in Greensboro, North Carolina, hire personal injury lawyers in that area. But if you have a case in Duluth, Georgia, talk to Duluth GA personal injury lawyers. This way, consulting with them is convenient and fast.
On the other hand, Pennsylvania already has a House Bill regarding COVID-19 work-related injury, treating it as a traumatic event or occupational disease. The same Bill also puts certain employees to be in “work-related hazardous duty” and are entitled to medical benefits.
Aside from health coverage, business owners turn to insurance for “business interruption” coverage. This coverage reimburses the business owner for the expenses incurred when the business was not open. Unfortunately, some insurers denied claims from business owners related to the pandemic. Insurers contend that the coronavirus infestation to the business is not physical injury.
In line with this, the Legislative department already recommended that the exclusion of coronavirus is void, and it should be included as physical injury to the business. New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina are considering this legislature.
The pandemic has changed the business and health spectrum. It has also changed how personal injury claims are made, making it difficult to prove claims related to COVID-19. Thus, it is essential to practice health protocols and understand that there might be litigation along the way for breaching these protocols.
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