We have previously ruminated about what effects covid 19 will have on Maryland personal injury law and when the courts will reopen to try such cases. See https://www.maryland-law.com/library/how-will-covid-19-impact-maryland-crash-injury-cases-.cfm
As more time goes by the profound impact on American society is increasingly evident and the ramifications for injured victims of personal injury in Maryland are mounting. First and most obviously, people are loath to go outside in public places and this hinders obtaining necessary and appropriate medical treatment.
As has been said here many times before, medical reports are the bedrock of any personal injury or accident case and individuals who complain of continuing injury are greeted with great skepticism absent continuing documentation of their symptoms and treatment regimen.
In this same vein, lost time from work documentation contemplates healthcare providers stamping their medical seal of approval on peoples inability to do their regular work due to constraints from their injuries.
Now these issues can be addressed through video-conferencing but it is inevitable that this will be a point of emphasis by defense lawyers at trial of these cases. Colloquies like "Doctor you say Mr. Jones couldn't work but you had to take his word on his range of motion rather than testing it, isn't that correct?"
A second lost wage issue of course is that many businesses are closed or limited and while the car crash injury may have precluded Mr. Jones from working, the fact is that even if he was 100% healthy, there may not have been work for him.
A second whole area of problems concerns the logistics of lawsuits. Insurance companies in the modern age are just plain cheap. We routinely receive offers that are very little more than medical bills plus lost wages and insurance companies have made attacking medical bills a point of emphasis.
We routinely reach impasse in settlement negotiations and put cases into lawsuits. Smaller non-jury cases filed in the District Court of Maryland take 90 to 120 days or so to reach trial. Circuit Court cases between 9 and 15 months or so unless the case is of greater complexity.
This timing is all out the window. Courts are presently closed through June 5, 2020 and it is hard to imagine jury trials taking place before a covid 19 vaccine is widely available due to the proximity of jurors to one and another. Personally, this author was in Montgomery County, Maryland District Court for trial on March 11, 2020 and was very worried about the massive overcrowding of the courtroom, which is routine.
Some sort of court reopening is inevitable but criminal cases and domestic cases will be prioritized and older cases always go first. Thus, new cases will potentially take...forever.
Some of the insurance carriers are viewing the present shutdown as an opportunity to resolve cases ( Nice Job Geico) but many are acting like its business as usual. This means injured people dissatisfied with offers for their cases will wait and of course the at -fault drivers will have lawsuits hanging over them and their credit reports for far longer than usual.
The great unknown is whether the devastating effects of this crisis will serve to alter case values?