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The Coronavirus Has Closed Courts—But It’s for the Better

The Coronavirus Has Closed Courts—But It’s for the Better

The coronavirus pandemic is first on everyone’s mind these days. Every corner of the world has been affected by it.

During this difficult time, many people aren’t thinking about personal injury or wrongful death claims at all. However, as lawyers who are still working (while taking appropriate precautions), we’re already seeing the consequences of the pandemic.

First, there is much less traffic on our roads. Fortunately, this should mean fewer traffic crashes and accidents on the job—at least until people start back to work and school.

Second, clinics and physicians are modifying their care practices. For example, many are not putting people in waiting rooms together. These are sensible precautions, and we’re just grateful that health care providers are still providing the care our injured clients need.

That’s the good news. Almost all the rest of the news is bad.

The most obvious problem is that injured people are going to have trouble getting hospital treatment. Regrettably, some clients we meet are so badly injured that they require treatment in intensive care units. As has been widely discussed in media reports, ICUs are projected to burst with coronavirus patients in the next few weeks. There may not be room for all the COVID-19 patients, let alone all the other patients that need emergency care on any given day. This will create a major challenge for our healthcare system. Hopefully, capacity can be increased to keep up with a spike in demand.

What About the Legal World?

On the civil justice side, our court system has essentially come to a stop. There will be no jury trials in Florida until mid-April. When mid-April arrives, the moratorium could be extended, depending on conditions at the time. Even if it is lifted, getting potential jurors to show up may prove to be a problem.

So far, we have no answer about whether trials that were scheduled to start during this period will have first priority after the moratorium is lifted. While this seems like the fairest solution for people waiting for their day in court, these details have not been worked out yet. Judges are not currently holding motion hearings at courthouses either. Some are being conducted via telephone or through electronic technology, but cases are still likely to get slowed down.

We Can All Do Our Part

This pandemic is unlike anything seen in our lifetimes. The last comparable event was the flu that swept the world more than a hundred years ago, in 1918. In this extraordinary moment, our first priority should be to follow the advice of our healthcare experts. This includes following their guidance on social distancing, hand washing, working remotely, and so on.

We hope the measures we’re taking collectively will “flatten the curve” and allow us to go back to normal life soon. In the meantime, we hope all our clients and their loved ones stay safe and healthy.

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