Car Accident Claims are Changing During Pandemic
By Space Coast Daily // October 8, 2020
As much as daily life has adapted to reflect the myriad of changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, car accidents and car accident claims are having to alter their course of action to better reflect new regulations and ways of business that did not exist pre-pandemic.
For many, car accidents make life harder regardless of if the accident was a fender-bender or a serious collision. The aftermath of a crash can be incredibly difficult for someone to deal with, whether or not this is their first accident. Not only does a person have to deal with their damaged property, like their car, but they may have to deal with mental, physical, and emotional damages resulting from the collision.
While other parts of normal life are returning, it appears that car accident claims may require more time before they return to what they were before the pandemic hit. Various elements of the claims process have been disrupted, and these disruptions may continue for longer than a person may realize. No one expects a car accident to happen, but understanding the ways the car accident claim process has changed may better prepare someone for the unpredictable.
Issues with Insurance Coverage
When the pandemic altered life for millions of Americans in March, one of the most significant changes was that employees shifted from working in office at locations across the country to working from home. The shift from working a 9-5 in a city or hub, to doing the same hours from home, meant that traffic patterns and other transit drastically changed.
As many people started to work from home, many discontinued their car insurance premiums because they were not driving every day. Now, as businesses begin to reopen and life returns to a sense of normalcy, some drivers may continue to be uninsured as they start to drive again. This means more drivers on the road may be uninsured, which could increase the possibility of a collision with an uninsured motorist.
“Car accident claims before the pandemic centered around property damage and injuries that a person’s insurance and the other driver’s insurance would cover,” said Attorney Kevin J. Roach from Law Offices of Kevin J Roach, LLC. “Now, with a higher percentage of uninsured drivers on the roads, a person may have to rely on their own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to be properly compensated, which can be just as frustrating as dealing with someone else’s insurance company.”
Law Firms and Courts Closed
Another vast difference between car accident claims before the pandemic and where they stand today is that law firms, courts, and other critical places for claims are closed or operating on diminished capacity.
Due to state regulations on what can be open during the pandemic and a businesses preference on how they want to be open may create delays that may not have been present before the pandemic. Additionally, many law firms and courts are operating on a strictly online basis – something new to the industry.
For car accident claims, this may mean dealing with an attorney over the phone throughout a car accident case. Courts are now allowing video sessions and hearings, which could be beneficial for those who do not want to go to a public courthouse.
A negative aspect to these cases being handled online is that the physical injuries or harm done to a person from a car accident may not always be visible. In an in-person hearing, if the victim has a physical injury it would be extremely visible as they maneuvered the courtroom but an online hearing may not show the victims movements enough for that to weigh into the case.
That is why an experienced personal injury attorney may be the most beneficial when dealing with a car accident claim. A person can handle their case on their own, but with such a nuanced legal field, an attorney who understands the law and how to work with the online medium of a car accident claim could be an invaluable resource.
Obstacles to Medical Attention
Some of the most pressing legislation to be released in states across the country has been protections for healthcare professionals who treat patients with coronavirus. The healthcare industry is overwhelmed with the large number of COVID-19 cases, which makes it harder in some areas for car accident victims with no pressing injuries to get the care and documentation they may need for their car accident claim.
Of course, if a person’s injuries require immediate and professional medical care, they will be cared for at a hospital. However, if a person does not believe their injuries to be serious, or they simply do not want to wait in a hospital’s general waiting room and risk infection, they may choose another option.
Some hospitals have taken to a number system, somewhat like a deli counter, to allow patients to wait in line virtually or over the phone from the safety of their car. Other hospitals may allow patients to book appointments with general practitioners if their injuries do not require immediate care. This allows patients to get a professional opinion on things like back pain, joint pain, or minor injuries that may appear from an accident.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind after an accident is that, although a person may believe that their accidents are not serious in nature, they may blossom into serious injuries or pains that stick with a person for the rest of their life. Seeking medical care, even if they do not see it as necessary, can create documentation for an injury case that can only benefit a person in their case.
Moving Forward with a Car Accident Claim
It is always beneficial to record the other drivers contact information and insurance, even if the damages were limited or nonexistent, because there could be serious damages that take a while to account for – especially with car passengers. Back pain, concussions, and other significant injuries can take time to appear, which means if a person is severely injured in an accident, they would want to pursue compensation for medical bills.
With the pandemic, it’s important to wear appropriate protective equipment when talking with the other driver and potentially law enforcement officials. In the past, it used to be easy to share information and discuss the details of an accident. Now, a person will want to be careful with what they touch and how close they stand to talk to someone.
A good tip to keep in mind is to take pictures of the accident and take pictures of the other driver’s information instead of physically handling it. While it may feel redundant, any precautions can be beneficial in the future of a person’s car accident claim.
A final note to keep in mind: document as much as possible. Whether it be the injuries a person sustains, the weather conditions occurring during a car accident, or the location where a car accident happened, all of this information could prove to be valuable in a person’s car accident claim, even during the unpredictable and volatile environment of a global pandemic.