Unfortunately, the COVID crisis has created situations that make settling and trying personal injury cases in San Antonio and the rest of Texas much more difficult. Courts are shutdown. Doctors offices are running with low staff. And, getting evidence needed can be slowed. We discuss expectations for our clients in this episode.
San Antonio Injury Attorney Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
All right. Welcome to this episode of Hill Law Firm Cases, this podcast has been an attempt to make sure our listeners, make sure our clients, our former clients, our potential future clients not only know what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis in terms of the type of work we work on, but also who works with us, what’s going on in the legal industry and what to expect if you ever need our services. One of the more common questions that we’re getting these days revolves around the COVID crisis, the court shutdowns, what to expect, and how it’s going to impact their personal injury lawsuit.
In San Antonio, the court systems have been shut down for months at this point, very few things have been moving forward. The courts have been looking for people willing to try their case by Zoom, but not many people want to try a personal injury case by Zoom for a variety of reasons. We get these calls from our current clients asking what to expect and what’s the delay and what’s going on. We have to walk through this uncharted territory that we’re in right now as it relates to the COVID crisis.
From our law firm standpoint, I just wanted to discuss a few things. With the COVID crisis early on here in San Antonio people weren’t going to work, people weren’t driving on the highways and the streets. That meant there were less car crashes. There were less on the job injuries. There were less people needing our services. What that meant practically was our phones weren’t ringing as much on intake and new cases but it was still ringing, but it allowed us to start focusing solely on moving the cases that we had at that time in light of the fact that there were a lot of hurdles to moving cases with the COVID crisis looming.
One thing I have to tell all of my clients now and our future clients is that the question of how long will it take to resolve my case is up in the air at this point. There’s a lot of reasons for that. The one that most people know about is that the courts are not trying cases right now. We’re able to get hearings, we’re able to do some things, but from a plaintiff’s standpoint, in a personal injury case, the deadline or the backstop time in terms of a cases lifespan, is the trial date.
If you don’t have a trial date, the other side feels no pressure because there’s nothing looming for them to worry about. They don’t have to worry about allowing 12 people here in San Antonio decide the merits and value of the case. They can delay and just sit tight because there’s no risk for them, but practically there’s other considerations as well that we have to talk to our clients about.
For one, depos are more difficult. We’re able to do zoom depositions, they’re happening all over America, the state of Texas is no different, but they’re much harder to handle for certain types of depositions. A fact witness, that’s not that bad, but when it comes to very document-intensive depositions of experts or doctors or corporate representatives, it’s more difficult to the extent that some of them we have to really weigh whether or not we want to wait to handle that deposition in-person because it will be a more effective deposition.
Some of the other things that people don’t think about is medical records right now. Not only are doctors harder to get to see patients because of the crisis. There’s a lot of teleconference, telemedicine, but even once they have seen patients, it’s harder to get medical records right now. A lot of doctor’s offices are running on a skeleton crew. They have less people in the office and getting medical records for a lawsuit is low on their priority list it seems like. That’s a practical thing that slows down the case as well. Another thing we’ve run into is evidence and experts.
A lot of cases require experts to help work the case. These are hired people with expertise in a certain area that help you get answers to your case. Sometimes we hire them just to give us advice. Sometimes we hire them and ask them to share their opinions with a jury as a retained expert. A lot of experts aren’t willing to travel right now, so a lot of them are not able to do the work we need, and oftentimes that work is necessary for a case to proceed to trial. Trial dates due to Zoom being put off into the future creates the biggest problem for us moving the majority of our cases but there’s a trickle-down effect to the shutdown that has permeated almost every area of the personal injury practice.
Finally, insurance companies are never known to really try to do the right thing or they hide behind what is going on with this crisis, so they can hold onto their money longer because there is no trial in the future for them. What we’re seeing from some insurance companies but not all is we’re going to offer you probably 80%, 90% of what we would have offered you if you could get to trial, but we’re going to offer you that because you’re going to have to tell your client that they might be a year or two years out from getting their case resolved due to the court shut down.
Some insurance companies are playing on that about what they’re doing to people and leave it to the insurance company to not waste an opportunity to take advantage of people. The overriding message I wanted to share with people is if you’ve been injured or you still have a claim, you still have a case and we’re still taking those cases, we just have to tell people to expect that the timing or the normal. I would say that most of our cases are moving at about the same pace that they would have moved prior to the COVID crisis, but some are moving slower and some are stuck in the mud because we can’t get to trial.
My message to anybody who’s been injured is don’t be frustrated by the idea that your case may take longer. Don’t limit your time to seek options and seek out legal counsel. Just understand that the process is going to be a little bit different and you’re going to hear lawyers tell you that they can’t give you straight answers on some of the process because nobody really knows what to expect in terms of trial dates and nobody can force people like experts and doctors to work faster under these conditions. If you have any questions about what’s going on at our firm or questions about your potential personal injury case, feel free to give us a call.
[00:07:17] [END OF AUDIO]