Impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on Personal Injury Claims
Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many businesses have had to close, reduce operations and adopt new ways of working.
Solicitors ‘essential to the running of the justice system’ have been classed as key workers by the government. The Law Society advises that ‘solicitors will need to decide responsibly for themselves whether they fall within the categories outlined, within the spirit of being essential to the running of the justice system’.
It appears that most personal injury claims solicitors are still operating in the UK, but often at reduced staffing levels. There is also now a higher number of legal staff working remotely from home.
This is also the case for insurance companies who are required by law to defend, respond and agree all compensation claims submitted.
How will COVID-19 affect your compensation claim?
Solicitors are regulated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and have a duty to ‘maintain a high standard of service’ to their clients. This includes making sure that your compensation claim is dealt with appropriately, without delay and in your best interests.
The periods for compliance stated under the pre-action protocol and civil procedure rules for personal injury claims are still in force. The deadlines imposed for cases running on the Ministry of Justice Portal system have not changed.
However, this does not necessarily mean that there will not be a delay with your claim being processed due to current circumstances. This may be due to obtaining medical evidence or where your case is subject to Court proceedings discussed below.
GP and hospital records for personal injury compensation claims
It may be necessary for your personal injury claims solicitors to ask for copies of your medical records. This is often the case for serious injury compensation claims and cases where liability is denied.
The usual timescale for records to be sent under a subject access request is one month specified by your rights of access under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This can be extended by a further two months if the request is considered complex.
Given the pressure that NHS services are under, requests could be delayed and it is considered unlikely that any penalties for non-compliance under GDPR would be imposed by ICO at this time.
Medical reports for personal injury compensation claims
All personal injury compensation claims require a medical legal report to be prepared for evidence of your injuries and in order for your compensation claim to be valued.
MedCo is the system used to source a medical report where you have a soft-tissue injury claim brought under the Ministry of Justice Pre-action protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents.
It was announced by MedCo on the 23 March that remote video medical examinations were being permitted on a temporary basis.
Where video examinations can be accommodated medical experts and agencies have adopted this type of examination to enable medical reports to be produced. This will also depend on whether you have a device to do this (phone, laptop, tablet) with internet access and your preference to attend this type of examination.
COVID-19 impact on the operation of courts
The Lord Chief Justice, The Lord Burnett of Maldon made a statement on the 17 March 2020 about the impact of coronavirus on the operation of the Courts: –
“COVID-19 will clearly have an impact on the operation of all courts in every jurisdiction. It is not realistic to suppose that it will be business as usual in any jurisdiction, but it is of vital importance that the administration of justice does not grind to a halt”
The Coronavirus Bill 2020 has brought in a new practice direction ‘Video or audio hearings during Coronavirus pandemic’. Therefore, it is expected that some personal injury cases will be dealt with by way of video or telephone hearings at the discretion of the Judge. However, a number of cases may be postponed to a later date.
At present it is unknown what the impact will be due to the pressure of courts to deal with ‘priority’ cases and personal injury cases in the main do not fall into this category.
Compare Compensation Claims
There are a large number of people working from home, or on furlough leave, and travel and social activities are restricted. Therefore if you have more free time, you may find that this is a good opportunity for you to make a personal injury compensation claim.
It may be that you have a work accident compensation claim, a road traffic accident compensation claim, or slip and trim claim that you have not dealt with. If you have suffered from a personal injury in the last three years that was not your fault you could be entitled to compensation.
Compare Compensation Claims enables you to search a directory of recommended and rated solicitors to compare personal injury solicitors in seconds.
Guest Author: With thanks to Mr Shailesh Parmar, specialist personal injury Solicitor at Parmar & Co Solicitors for providing information on the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on personal injury claims used to prepare this article.