As we all are aware, the past year has been challenging in nearly every aspect of our lives. Well, the civil justice system is no exception. COVID shut down most every industry in our society or had the practical effect of making it much slower in providing both goods and services. COVID has affected the ability for car wreck victims to get their justice and will continue to delay that process for years to come.
How The Car Wreck Injury Claim Process Works In General.
As many of you may already know, the car wreck injury claim process starts as soon as you are involved in a car wreck. Insurance companies become aware of the car wreck within minutes of the wreck usually and as soon as they are made aware, they start working to figure out ways to save insurance company money.
Insurance companies also know that they have more money than most if not all of the car wreck victims in the country. This not only means that they more assets at their disposal to use in fighting against paying a car wreck victim’s claim but they also know what they have more of….TIME.
Insurance companies have the ability to delay and delay since the more time they hold on to insurance proceeds the more money they make.
Insurance companies take your premium payments and place them in various investments. These monies make them more money. The longer they can keep these investments funded and the more money they can keep in these investments, the more money they can make.
So, even prior to COVID, it always makes more sense to the insurance company to hold onto their money and delay the car wreck claims process as long as they can. With COVID and its attendant delays in our society, insurance companies have been handed a legitimate basis to delay on top of their usual delay tactics. This obviously does not help car wreck victims get their claims completed and paid but it certainly will assist the insurance companies make more on their investments.
Generally, the car wreck claims process involves a treatment phase and then a demand phase:
The treatment phase starts as soon as the car wreck injury occurs. The initial treatment is usually via emergency medical services and then shortly thereafter in the emergency room. This treatment process however usually takes between six months and a year to be completed since car wreck victims must get a full diagnosis and treatment before you can place a value on the case.
So, even before COVID, a car wreck case typically would take up to a year to determine its real value.
How COVID Affected Those Car Wreck Injury Claims That Were Pending When COVID Forced Lock Down in March 2020.
COVID has done nothing to assist the efficiency of the car wreck injury medical treatment process. For example, for at least 60 days many car wreck victims delayed treatment in 2020 and some are still somewhat afraid to continue treatment for fear that they will contract COVID. Even though the solid lockdown period was only for a month or two in 2020, many car wreck victims have placed their car wreck injury treatment on the back burner as they await the clearing of the threat of COVID.
These delays in car wreck injury treatment will now extend the typical treatment phase for many car wreck victims for at least a year. For the car insurance companies, this is perfect as their monies can remain solidly invested and earning high rates of return.
How COVID Will Affect Car Wreck Injury Claims Moving Forward.
The other major factor in the car wreck injury claims process that COVID has affected is the absence of civil jury trials. As many may be aware, all car wreck injury claims if not settled will ultimately be decided by a civil jury trial.
INSURANCE COMPANIES DO NOT LIKE HAVING TO DEAL WITH CIVIL JURY TRIALS. THEY ACTUALLY HATE THEM.
See, civil jury trials involve uncertainty. The insurance business is all about predictability. Insurance companies spend millions of dollars every year trying to predict how much they are going to spend on car wreck claims each year. They then make enormous investment decisions based upon these predictions. Any uncertainly that is injected into that process causes insurance companies to lose money, they do not like to lose money especially when the losses are beyond their predictions.
The threat of them having to go to trial and trial are the car wreck lawyer’s primary weapons. COVID has neutralized that weapon for nearly all car wreck lawyers. Most if not all civil jury trials have been suspended. For example, many Florida state courts have not even attempted to conduct civil jury trials since February of 2020. Many are not setting civil jury trials in 2021. This means that the greatest threat to the insurance companies in ca wreck injury claims will not be useful as leverage in these cases until 2021.
Why COVID Will Affect Car Wreck Injury Claims More Than Other Legal Claims
The absence of civil jury trials will affect car wreck injury claims more than most other legal actions because these claims are uniquely dependent upon the jury system. Divorce cases, workers compensation claims, most business cases, and Manny other types of legal actions do not rely on a jury for resolution. For example, divorce cases are decided by judges in what is called a “judge trial”. This is the same for worker’s compensation cases.
However, civil juries determined the issues and damages in car wreck claims.
THIS MEANS THAT OUR CAR WRECK CLAIMS WILL HAVE TO WAIT ON THE JURY SYSTEM TO BE ONLINE AGAIN TO GET OUR CLIENTS THE JUSTICE THEY DESERVE.
Another complicating factor is that our jury system is also the critical element in criminal cases. For constitutional reasons, criminal cases get priority over all civil cases including car wreck injury cases. All of the 2020 criminal jury trials that could not be done and can not be done presently will have to be dealt with FIRST before civil jury trials are scheduled.
Our firm has heard that some judges are making it clear that all of their back logged criminal trials will be set first before ANY civil jury trials are set for trial. This translates into more of a delay for many car wreck injury claims.
What You Can Do to Combat COVID’s Impact on Your Car Wreck Injury Claim.
In one word, AGGRESSIVENESS. Insurance know they have the upper hand since they know they have all the money and that most car wreck injury victims have less money due to their injuries and now due to COVID.
Car insurance companies realize that this provides them leverage in negotiating all of their car wreck injury claims. Since insurance companies are not interested in being fair, they use this leverage against car wreck injury victims.
Many of the offers made since COVID have been about 30%-50% lower than they would be prior to COVID. They realize that many car wreck injury victims are so desperate that some will take whatever is being offered. They also know that car wreck lawyers are all having to inform their clients that if there is no settlement now that there will likely not be a trial in their case for over a year or more.
So, lawyers handling car wreck injury claims should not spend time negotiating claims as soon as they confirm the insurance company is using this COVID leverage.
Instead, car wreck injury lawyers should be filing these claims and then making the insurance company spend money on lawyer fees and litigation costs.
See, once a suit is filed the insurance company then has to start spending money to defend the case. They have to hire a law firm to defend the at-fault driver. These law firm’s bill the insurance company by the hour and the more you work them the more they bill the insurance company. This means the more aggressive your car wreck injury lawyer is the more the insurance company will have to pay to keep the claim pending. It’s math to them. If they can keep a car wreck claim on their books without the company having to pay anything for that delay only helps the insurance company, make more money. They love delays.
You have to make them pay for every minute your car wreck case is pending. You have to make them have to pay bill after bill in litigation costs until someone in the company says, “. . . ok, maybe we should stop trying to take advantage of this car wreck victim anymore.” Some will do the right thing, but many will not. YOU, AS A CAR WRECK INJURY VICTIM, MUST REMAIN VIGILANT UNTIL THE CIVIL JURY SYSTEM IS BACK ONLINE. MANY jurisdictions are setting up plans to bring in extra (retired) judges to help with the backlog of cases that will need to be resolved in 2021. The other thing you can do as a citizen is to make sure that if you are called to jury service that you do your duty and serve.
Certainly, to insure you get the best representation for your Florida car wreck injury case, hire only a board-certified civil trial lawyer to represent you in your Florida car wreck case. HERE AT ZARZAUR LAW WE PRIDE OURSELVES WITH BEING AGGRESSIVE AND COVID IS JUST ANOTHER TRICK WE USE AS MOTIVATION TO BE EVEN MORE AGGRESSIVE.
For more information about Florida car wreck injury cases or how COVID may affect car wreck claims, reach out to Zarzaur Law at ZarzaurLaw.com or call us at 855HIREjoe.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.